DEEP campaign for boating safety in cold waters

HARTFORD — The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection reminds all boaters that even though air temperatures are rising this spring, water temperatures are taking much longer to warm up. and immersion in cold water presents a substantial hazard to boaters.

From now until the end of May, DEEP will run a cold water safety campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of cold water immersion through social media, special events and outreach on field.

“DEEP will deliver targeted safety messages to educate boaters – especially paddlers – on using proper equipment, practicing safety techniques, wearing a life jacket and avoiding dangerous situations during the cold water period,” officials said in a statement. “In the past six years, Connecticut has suffered six paddler fatalities during the cold water portion of the boating season from March 1 through May 31.”

According to DEEP, Connecticut has many avid paddlers who like to get out on the water as soon as the wintry weather kicks in. While air temperatures in early spring can sometimes reach 50 or 60 degrees F in March, DEEP warns that water temperatures can still be below 40 degrees. Boaters operating in these conditions should exercise extreme caution and carry all appropriate safety equipment. These boaters should always be prepared for sudden immersion in cold water. DEEP wants boaters to be safe while enjoying their time on the water. The Cold Water Safety Campaign expects to share tips to keep Connecticut boaters safe.

DEEP offers a number of good boating practices to stay safe when boating in cold water:

Always Wear Your Life Vest – Connecticut law requires all boaters using canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and stand-up paddle boards to wear a properly fitting life vest between October 1 and May 31. If you end up in the water, it will make you more visible to other boaters and keep you afloat, greatly improving your chances of survival.

Don’t paddle alone – Always row with a partner and know how to get back into your boat if you fall overboard. When paddling with a partner, it is easier to get back into a boat or reach shore safely.

Dress Appropriately – Paddlers should dress for water temperature, not air temperature. Water temperatures can vary widely around the state in the spring, but all are always below 68o F, which is considered cold water. Cold water immersion increases the risk of cold water shock and involuntary gasp reflex, which is one of the main causes of drowning.

File a Float Plan – Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Be sure to let the person know you’re home safely and identify who to call if you don’t.

Maintain Proper Watch – Damaged docks, pilings and trees can float on rivers and in Long Island Sound. Boaters should take extra care when out on the water to look for and avoid floating debris.

To learn more about cold water boating and paddling in Connecticut, visit the DEEP website at

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