With record-breaking temperatures expected this weekend across the state, The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is urging everyone to prioritize water safety, with a reminder that there will be no lifeguards on duty this early in the season.
According to DEEP, although the state will be experiencing high temperatures, the water in the Long Island Sound and inland water bodies will still remain cold. This poses a danger of hypothermia for swimmers, particularly children, who enter the water for an extended period of time.
Currently, the water temperatures in the Long Island Sound and many inland places are in the low-50 degree range. Summertime temperatures usually reach the low 70's, DEEP said.
If you do enter the water, DEEP issues these reminders:
- Parents- Watch Your Children
It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and this can occur silently.
- Be Aware of Underwater Hazards
Natural swimming areas can have sudden drop-offs, inshore holes, large rocks or tree roots that can’t be easily seen from the surface. Diving and jumping into these waters can be hazardous. Please be careful of these unseen dangers.
- Swim only in the designated areas
- Take a Swimming Lesson
Increasing your water safety knowledge and swimming skills can help save your life. People of all ages should consider signing up for a swimming class offered at your local YMCA branch, American Red Cross Chapter, or municipal parks & recreation department.
- Drink Responsibly
Excessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and reaction ability. Even prescription drugs may impair judgment.
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Boaters and paddlers should also use caution this weekend, DEEP said. The cold water temperatures can create substantial dangers to unprepared recreational boaters.
Paddlers should use proper equipment, practice safety techniques, wear a life jacket, avoid dangerous situations, and be prepared for a sudden cold-water immersion.
Over the last six years, seven paddlers have died during the spring's cold water boating season, DEEP said.
As National Safe Boating Week runs from May 21 – 27, DEEP also offers a number of smart practices for all boaters to remain safe while on the water:
- Always wear your life jacket – Connecticut law requires anyone in canoes, kayaks, rowboats or stand-up paddleboards to wear a properly fitting life jacket between Oct. 1 and May 31. If a boater ends up in the water, a life jacket will make you more visible to other boaters and will keep you afloat, significantly improving your chances of survival.
- Do not paddle alone– Always paddle with a partner and know how to get back into your boat should 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 the water temperature, not the air temperature. Water temperatures can vary greatly around the state during the spring, but all are still below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which is considered cold water. Cold-water immersion increases the risk of cold-water shock and involuntary gasp reflex which is a leading cause of drowning.
- File a float plan– Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Make sure you let the person know when you are home safely and identify who to call if you don’t.
- Maintain proper lookout – Damaged docks, pilings and trees may be floating down rivers and into Long Island Sound. Boaters should be especially vigilant when they get out on the water to look for and avoid floating debris.