PORTLAND, Maine — With summer-like temperatures expected later this week and into the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard emphasizes safety for recreational boaters and paddlers.
“Warm weather early in the season can often create a false sense of security,” said Lt. Nick Barrow, supervisor of the search and rescue command center in Portland. “Though the air may be warm, the water is still dangerously cold, and potentially life-threatening to the unprepared or ill-equipped boater or paddler. Water temperatures in Maine can still cause hypothermia even during summer.”
Some safety tips to remember are:
- Wear a life jacket.
- Stay sober while operating boats and watercraft.
- Avoid operating alone, and tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
- For paddlers and operators of other recreational watercraft: Always have reliable means of communicating distress, safety gear, and a way of increasing the likelihood of being found by rescue personnel. These include a VHF marine radio, extra cell phone battery, noise producing device, signaling mirror or strobe light, bright clothing, or flares. Finally, dress for the water temperature. Though the air may be warm, the water is cold. Dry suits and wet suits offer some protection against hypothermia in the event of capsize or immersion in the water.
- For paddle-craft operators: Mark It! By placing a name and contact numbers on or inside a paddle craft, the Coast Guard and other responders are more likely to locate an owner and confirm whether or not it was actually in use, when reported unmanned and adrift or washed ashore. One option is a Paddlesmart “If Found” decal; available for free by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or through the Safe Boating Campaign by visiting http://www.boatingorders.com/freeproducts.html.