Cold Water Boating Safety

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Enjoying the marine environment doesn’t have to stop when the warm weather ends. As the temperature begins to drop, fish and marine mammals are stirring around local waters in preparation of winter. This change of seasons offers ample opportunities for fishing as well as wildlife viewing from the shores or even closer, from the water.

Boating during the cold weather can be exciting but it’s necessary to take extra precaution while on the water. Review some suggested guidance on how to prepare for cold weather boating:

• Check the forecast and be aware of potentially hazardous marine conditions (www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/zone/east/okxmz.htm).

• Wear multiple layers of clothing and bring extra clothing in case someone gets wet or goes overboard.

• Make sure to eat and stay hydrated. Bring additional food and water on board.

• Wear sunglasses. The sun’s glare can be just as strong in the winter as in the summer.

• Make a float plan and inform a land-based person about your plan, then stick to the plan. This is especially important for solo boaters.

• Be sure to carry a communication device, such as a VHF radio or cellphone, and signaling device and secure them in a waterproof container or bag.

• Most important—wear a life jacket.

In cold water, you can succumb to hypothermia in a matter of minutes, and having the proper equipment and resources can help prevent a dangerous situation. If an emergency arises, contact the local Coast Guard station over your VHF Radio or dial 9-1-1 on your cellphone to contact local emergency personnel.

For information about coastal access, visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s saltwater fishing webpage (www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7755.html) or contact 631-444-0430.

—New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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