With the sun out and temperatures on the rise, boaters may feel the urge to get on the water. But response crews say it is worth it to wait – a message they're especially sharing to inexperienced boaters.
A member of the U.S. Coast Guard stationed in New Haven says water temperatures are dangerously cold this time of year, usually below 50 degrees.
"Be cognizant of what your capabilities are,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Junior Grade Stephen Lawrence.
Lawrence is part of the Coast Guard’s Incident Management Division. In 2022 alone, he says there have been more than 60 boating incidents. An average 500 search-and-rescue missions take place every year.
Get Connecticut local news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Connecticut newsletters.
For boaters, one of the most important safety strategies is having the right clothing. Meaning, wearing extra layers when water temperatures are below 70 degrees.
"One of things we like to tell people is dress for the water and not for the weather," said Lawrence.
However, even in warmer water temperatures, it’s still possible to get hypothermia. Lawrence says it all depends on how long you’re in the water.
"You need to be cognizant of what the water temperature is before you go out so that we can make sure you are being safe,” said Lawrence.
According to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, if you capsize, you shouldn't remove your clothes. Despite being soaked, they can help you float and keep you warm.
The Coast Guard in New Haven works closely with coastal communities, such as Old Saybrook, which received its first rescue call of the season Sunday.
"We had a marine emergency last night where a kayaker ended up in the water. Thankfully, he was able to get himself to shore,” said Stg. Ryan Walsh with Saybrook Police.
Other boaters this past weekend were not as fortunate. Two men were killed in waters near Stamford after a boat capsized.
"I think people do see the good weather and bright blue skies and don't realize how cold the water can be, how quickly things can change,” said Walsh.
Along with the proper layers, Walsh says knowing some of the hazards like rock piles, ridges, and banks and having the proper equipment is key.
"There's regulations in the state of Connecticut that require life jackets for children under 12 at all times. Life jackets from October 1 to May 31 for paddle boarders and canoers,” said Walsh.
In Connecticut, boaters are also required to have a safe boating certificate and it's recommended for all people on board to have one. This certification also includes telling someone your boating plans and knowing how to use all safety equipment.