A name and phone number on a paddlecraft can save first responders a lot of time and money if a person is separated from their vessel.
That’s why they’re encouraging people in kayaks, canoes, etc. to attach a vessel identification sticker. That way, in an emergency, first responders know who that paddlecraft belongs to.
On the sticker supplied by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), people are asked to list two phone numbers, which could be theirs and a person who knows their game plan. That way responders can account for them or target a specific area to search.
DEEP is making a concerted effort to promote the identification tag this year because they’ve seen the number of paddleboard, kayaks, canoes, etc. on the water go up over the last few years, according to a department spokesperson.
People can also make their own tag.
“We can call that number to verify. At least we have a point where we can start. It would be faster in a recovery and it would be faster to find people and account for them,” said Poquonnock Bridge Fire District Chief Joe Winski.
His firefighters use a “Zodiac,” which is a shallow draft rescue boat. It helps with searches on the Poquonnock River – an area often too shallow during low-tide for a Coast Guard vessel because their draft is too deep, according to Winski.
The tide can change or a vessel hits a wave the wrong way and all of a sudden a person is separated from their paddlecraft, Winski said. And, a missing person rescue or recovery could go many hours, if not days, which ties up resources. In those instances, other departments step in to help fill the need, Winski added.
He encourages boaters to use an identification sticker, too.
DEEP put out an ad saying it could cost more than $11,000 per hour for a response helicopter and over $3,700 for a response boat.
There have already been a number of instances where police sought the help to identify paddlecrafts this summer.
At the end of May, Old Saybrook Police posted on Facebook about an unidentified Kayak found near the mouth of the Connecticut River – which lead to an extensive search and eventual recovery of a Clinton teen.
Last week East Lyme Police posted about identifying a paddleboard that went adrift.
Kenneth and Karen King, of Southington, were kayaking at Bluff Point Tuesday. They wear life jackets, have distress whistles and always let someone know where they are. Now, they’re going to add an ID sticker to their vessels, too.
“It’s just a good point. I didn’t realize it. That if I get separated from the boat, flipped in, the boat went one way – I mean, it could be anybody’s,” Karen King said.