As temperatures get warmer in Connecticut and New England, it’s tempting to finally head out onto the waters and enjoy a boat ride.
But don’t let the warm air mislead you, officials say. In the spring, Connecticut waters are still dangerously cold.
In April, three people died in two separate boating accidents. In one incident on Long Island Sound, two men died even though they were wearing life jackets when their boat capsized.
Here are three things to keep in mind to stay safe on the water.
1. Learn the 1-10-1 rule.
When on the water, boaters should keep in mind the 1-10-1 rule, said Jacob Budris, a boating safety instructor with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
In the spring, if you fall in the water, “you have about one minute to get your breathing in check, you have about 10 minutes of meaningful movement and you have an hour before hypothermia can set in,” Budris said.
2. Dress appropriately.
In addition to wearing a life preserver, it’s important to dress appropriately for the water, Budris said.
Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Cotton fabrics absorb water while wool or polyester do a better job of repelling water and retaining body heat. Budris suggests that people in canoes or kayaks wear a wet or dry suit. In a normal year, water temperatures are safest in July and August.
3. Do your homework.
Before you launch, do a safety gear check and make sure everything works and is up to date. Never leave dry land without checking the weather and the wind conditions.
And when you’re on the water, “always expect it to be a lot windier than you expect,” Budris said.
U.S. Army: Tips to survive a fall into cold water
CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection: Boating safety