Coast Guard wraps up summer boating season, reminds mariners to prepare for cold weather

BALTIMORE – As the air and water temperatures in Maryland and Washington, D.C., grow colder each day, Coast Guard Sector Baltimore reminds mariners to take extra precautions on the water.

Although summer officially ended just three weeks ago, the area is already experiencing colder weather, which means boaters, paddlers, sailors, fishermen and hunters should carry extra gear to protect them from the cold. They should plan for what might go wrong and be equipped and prepared for survival.

“We don’t want to keep people from enjoying the water this fall, however, we felt it prudent to educate the boating public in the potential for things to go wrong,” said Capt. Mark O’Malley, the commanding officer of Sector Baltimore. “The onset of cold weather exponentially increases the risk mariners may face if they find themselves in an emergency situation while on the water.”

Hypothermia beings to occur when the body’s core temperature falls below 95 degrees, occurs 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air and may eventually lead to death. How quickly a person becomes hypothermic depends on many factors including the environment, whether a person is wearing protective gear or not and physical condition.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s national data buoy center, the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse, located just outside the Severn River, has recorded an average low water temperature of 40 degrees and an average low air temperature of 35 degrees for the last 10 years.

Boaters are urged to follow these safety rules:

  • Leave a float plan with a responsible individual who knows your intentions, location and who they should call if you do not return as scheduled.
  • Wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket and set the example for your passengers or paddling partners.
  • Carry a marine-band radio and GPS on board your vessel.
  • Plan for the worst; dress as though you are going to get wet and be cold.
  • Maintain situational awareness on the water. Be aware of activity around your vessel, including changing weather, and always know your location.
  • Be responsible! Don’t boat under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

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