New England waters are dangerously cold

BOSTON – The Coast Guard is issuing a safety advisory to all late season boaters, paddlers, and fisherman on the dangers of sudden cold-water immersion.

Water temperatures on inland and coastal Northeastern waters are below 50 F and the First Coast Guard District has suffered the loss of 54 recreational boaters and paddlers this year. Only one person was wearing a life jacket.

“Even for the most experienced mariner, a fall into cold water is painfully shocking,” said Al Johnson, the recreational boating specialist for the First Coast Guard District in Boston.

“On sudden cold-water immersion there will be shock, panic, gasping, hyperventilation and an immediate rise in breath and heart rates and blood pressure and an inability to hold your breath.,” said Johnson. “Without a life jacket, it is extremely difficult to maintain floatation or swim.”

Since Labor Day, there have been 18 boating and paddling fatalities on Northeast waters. None were wearing a life jacket, said Johnson.

“The important thing to remember is this can happen to anyone and, if it does, simply wearing your life jacket could save your life,” said Johnson. “Plain and simple, when you need your life jacket, you need it on.”

Johnson also notes that for paddlers on Massachusetts and Connecticut waters, life jacket wear is mandatory through May 2009.

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