NY boaters warned of dangers associated with cold water immersion | Environment
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey reminded people Friday to be aware of the dangers of sudden unexpected cold water immersion.
Cold water immersion is associated with early season recreational boating outings and is a concern now because of the unseasonably warm weather the Capital Region has been seeing.
The NYS Office of Parks and Recreation with the Untied States Coast Guard strongly recommend wearing life jackets while aboard boats, especially small manually propelled watercraft. New York life jackets are required to be worn on any boat less than 21 feet in length between Nov. 1 and May 1.
"As the days grow longer and the sun warmer, many kayakers and canoeists begin thinking about their first venture upon the water for the year," said Harvey in a statement. "In doing so, it's essential to recognize that water temperatures are still extremely cold and will remain relatively so throughout the spring months. The dangers associated with cold water and sudden unexpected immersion can quickly turn a pleasant day into a tragic one."
Effects from cold water immersion include: An uncontrollable gasp reflex, causing hyperventilation, leading to unconsciousness or to swimming failure as limbs become numb. Other recommended tips include:
• Properly equip and carry essential safety gear, signaling devices and whistles.
• Use of either a dry or wet suit when conditions dictate.
• Consider taking a cell phone or radio with you, carried in a watertight bag.
• Always let others know where you're going and when to expect your return.
• Take a boating safety or paddle sport skills course; and always.
• Refrain from mixing alcohol with boating.
Should you find yourself in the water it is recommended that you stay with - and preferably on top of - your boat. Never overestimate your swimming ability, especially in cold water. All too often people underestimate the distance to shore or the effects of cold water and unfortunately drown while attempting to make it to safety.
Click here for more information on safer boating and cold water risks.