New York Area Coast Guard Urges Cold Weather Preparations

NEW YORK – Coast Guard Sectors New York and Long Island Sound remind mariners to take extra precautions on the water as the air and water temperatures in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey grow colder each day.

Although summer officially ended roughly two weeks ago, the Northeast is already experiencing colder weather, which means boaters, paddlers, sailors, and fishermen 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.

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 VHF radio and other reliable means of communication.
  • Be prepared for the shock of sudden immersion and the disabling effects of cold water. 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 – know that alcohol and drugs cause accidents and sometimes death.

The Coast Guard cautions boaters to know the limitations of their vessel and check weather conditions before going out on the water.

“The first avenue of assistance for disabled and disoriented boaters is a Good Samaritan or a commercial assistance company such as Sea Tow or Towboat US,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Kramer, a Coast Guard Sector New York operational unit watchstander. “If the mariners are in distress, then the Coast Guard will immediately respond.”

Knowledge of the local area can be invaluable during a response effort.

“If you find yourself disabled in a channel, be weary of what your charts say, understand what the channel markers mean and where they are, and know what your boat is capable of,” said Kramer.

Over the summer months there were approximately 311 cases documented at the local Coast Guard command centers. Of that number, about 38 were a result of pollution or oil spill, roughly 31 cases where people were rescued from the water and six vessel collisions occurred.

Though the Coast Guard sectors stayed busy this summer with traditional search and rescue operations, they also faced unique challenges. The beginning of the summer was met with several people who were caught in rip tides in the waters off Rockaway Beach, Coney Island and Long Beach – areas known for unpredictable currents. Search and rescue efforts can be severely hampered by heavy weather and colder water temperatures.

“As the tragedies this summer have demonstrated, the ocean can be a very dangerous environment,” said Cmdr. Gregory Hitchen, Coast Guard Sector New York’s chief of operations. “The ocean should be respected especially now that the water is going to get colder and survivability diminishes with a lower water temperature.”

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