Guard Issues Spring Boating and Paddling Safety Advisory in Northeast

BOSTON – With mild temperatures forecasted for Saturday and Sunday, the Coast Guard is issuing a safety advisory for all boaters and paddlers planning to venture out on the inland and coastal waters of the Northeast this weekend.

“In 2010 there has already been more than double the average number of deaths for this time of year, which is a tragic reminder that safety on our waters requires constant vigilance,” said Al Johnson, the First Coast Guard District recreational boating safety specialist.

Since Jan. 1, 2010, 14 recreational boaters and paddlers have died in the Northeast, including seven boaters, four canoeists and three kayakers. Ten of the mariners’ vessels capsized, one boater fell overboard, and three of the boaters, from New York, succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. Five of the paddle-sport fatalities were directly related to flood waters.

“The warm air temperatures this weekend can be very deceptive to boaters and paddlers who think it’s the perfect opportunity to be out on the water but overlook the fact that water temperatures remain dangerously cold,” said Johnson. “It is essential for boaters and paddlers to be prepared not only for cold water immersion, but for any other crisis that can occur as well.”

In addition to always wearing a life jacket, Johnson recommends wearing a wet or dry suit when paddling or when there is a high probability of sudden cold-water immersion. He also recommends in addition to standard survival equipment, filing a float plan with a responsible person and carrying a VHF radio and cell phone.

Wearing a life jacket is mandatory in Massachusetts until May 15, in Connecticut until the end of May, and on Maine’s Saco River through June 1. Maine also requires anyone operating a watercraft on certain sections of the Penobscot or Kennebec Rivers wear a life jacket at all times.

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