SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The Coast Guard is reminding mariners who are thinking about heading out onto Maine and New Hampshire waters this weekend that despite unseasonably high air temperatures, the water is still dangerously cold.
Although the National Weather Service is forecasting air temperatures as high as 70 degrees over the weekend, water temperatures will remain at a frigid 41 degrees. A sudden spill into water that cold incapacitates most people within minutes. People lose body heat about 26 times faster in water than on dry land, and the average person loses the ability to function after about 30 minutes in 35 to 40 degree water.
“Many people see warm spring weekends as the perfect opportunity to get out onto the water for the first time since winter, but they don’t realize the risk they’re taking,” Al Johnson, the First Coast Guard District recreational boating safety specialist, said in a press release.
Wearing a life jacket is mandatory on Maine’s Saco River through June 1. Maine also requires that anyone operating a watercraft on certain sections of the Penobscot or Kennebec rivers wear a life jacket at all times.
Johnson recommends that anyone who isn’t properly equipped or prepared for cold-water survival should wait for summer weather.
Mariners should prepare every trip on the water by doing the following:
• File a float plan with a friend or relative, telling them where you’re going and when you plan to return.
• Check the weather forecast.
• Ensure there is a working radio on board.
• Ensure your flares aren’t expired.
• Ensure everyone on board is wearing a properly fitted Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device.
• Ensure the boat plug is in place before launching.
For more Coast Guard information, go to www.piersystem.com/go/doc/778/458671.