FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — With National Safe Boating Week underway, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is encouraging all boaters to be safe on Connecticut’s waters while enjoying the upcoming boating season, which unofficially begins Memorial Day weekend.
This year, DEEP kicked off National Safe Boating Week on Saturday, May 21, with its partners, the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons, at the U.S. Coast Guard Open House, Sector Long Island Sound.
“Connecticut’s waters offer endless hours of relaxation, boating opportunities and outdoor recreation on Long Island Sound, Fishers Island Sound and in its many rivers, streams, lakes and ponds,” said Susan Whalen, deputy commissioner of DEEP. “All boaters should be properly certified and use common sense and courtesy while boating in Connecticut.”
A boating safety class is required to operate a registered boat, and boaters are urged to follow safety guidelines such as dressing properly for the water temperature, wearing a personal flotation device of life jacket, properly maintaining your boat, and refraining from boating under the influence of alcohol.
These simple steps and responsible boating practices will help create a safer, more enjoyable boating environment for everyone on Connecticut’s waters, DEEP said.
Connecticut law requires that each person on board a vessel have a life jacket that is properly sized, in good condition and readily accessible, DEEP said. Children under age 13, must wear their life jacket while underway unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin.
Wearing a lifejacket is a practice that is crucial to providing protection on the water, DEEP said. All of Connecticut’s fatal waterway accidents in 2015 were caused by drowning, DEEP said, and all victims were not wearing a life jacket.
Connecticut is considered a cold water state, where water temperatures usually don’t exceed 68 degrees before early June, DEEP said. Cold water can create dangerous conditions if you suddenly become immersed.
Plan for an unexpected immersion, dress for the water temperatures, not the air temperature and wear a life jacket. When submerged in cold water your body loses heat 25 times faster than it will in the air, DEEP said.
Boating certificates can be obtained by successfully completing an approved eight-hour course followed by the purchase of the certificate online through the DEEP website or by successfully passing an equivalency exam scheduled through the DEEP Boating Division.
For additional information, visit www.ct.gov/deep .