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News Release

March 22, 2012

U.S. Coast Guard

Contact: Public Affairs Detachment New York


Office: (212) 514-4291

Mobile: (917) 703-0983

Coast Guard shares cold water survival tips

NEW YORK — The Coast Guard is emphasizing safety for boaters and paddlers heading out on the water.

Prior to leaving you should ask yourself the following questions to make sure you’re prepared:

  1. Do I have all required safety equipment aboard my water craft and ensured it is in good working order?
  2. Do I have enough U.S. Coast Guard approved lifejackets aboard? All boaters and paddlers are encouraged to wear their lifejacket while underway. Some state laws require lifejackets be worn.
  3. Did I file a Float Plan?
  4. Do I know the dangers of hypothermia and how to recognize and respond to someone who may be suffering from it?
  5. Did I check the marine weather forecast for warnings or advisories?

Today the National Weather Service forecasts air temperatures along marinas and beaches from Sandy Hook, N.J., on the Hudson River and Long Island Sound, N.Y., to be in the high 70s while water temperatures range from 46-55 degrees.

 “One of the key things to keep in mind is that even if it’s warm out, if you fall in the water, your body will respond as if it were 40 degrees out because of how cold the water temperature still is,” said Walt Taylor, the 1st Coast Guard District’s Recreational Boating Safety specialist. “When a person falls in the cold water, their body responds to the initial shock with an instantaneous gasp for air, which if their head is underwater may cause the person to swallow water and drown.”

Wearing a lifejacket is proven to save lives because it helps keep your head out of the water if you fall overboard.

“By the time you fall in the water, it’s probably too late to try and put on a lifejacket, it only works when you wear it,” said Taylor.

All Coast Guard personnel that operate aboard a vessel are required to wear the appropriate hypothermia protection and survival equipment according to air and water temperatures.

The American Canoe Association provides more information on cold water survival.






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