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'Things can creep up on you very quickly.' Boaters and officials urge people to be safe on the Sound this weekend

Authorities say new boaters tend to cause more accidents, which why they will keeping an extra eye on the water.

Rose Shannon and John Craven

May 24, 2024, 8:55 PM

Updated 27 days ago

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Boaters and officials are urging people to be safe on the Sound this weekend, as the unofficial start of summer begins.
Cristina and Jeff Costa spent Friday at Norwalk Cove Marina finding their boat and preparing to take it out onto the water for the first time this season.
The Fairfield couple also made sure they had a fire extinguisher and plenty of life jackets on board.
"{We have} every size {from} little kids all the way up to adults," says Christina Costa.
However, the couple says not everyone takes safety as seriously as they do, especially newer boaters.
"People flying through the no wake zones where they're not supposed to be, You know, often times not respecting certain right-of-ways," says Jeff Costa.
Authorities say new boaters tend to cause more accidents, which why they will keeping an extra eye on the water.
"Make sure everybody has a life jacket. And kids, if they're under 13, they have to wear it at all times when they're on the boat," says CT ECON Police Col. Chris Lewis.
Lewis says people need to beware of the weather while on the water because it can often change without warning.
Back in March, over 20 rowers from the Saugatuck rowing club had their boats capsize during a sudden storm.
The Coast Guard advises boaters to check the marine weather forecast before they set out on the water.
The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recommends people should dress for the water temperature, not their air temperature.
Long Island Sound is only 60 degrees.
"You may be a confident swimmer in a pool or in 70 degree water in the middle of the summer, but it's much harder to swim in cold water," says Mason Trumble, DEEP deputy commissioner.
DEEP manages 117 boat launches across Connecticut on ponds, lakes, rivers and Long Island Sound.
The Costas say because of the ever-changing conditions, safety is paramount for them.
"Especially on the Sound things can creep up on you very quickly. We've all had those incidents where you're not on a rock, and then, all of a sudden, wow, you're somewhere maybe you're not supposed to be," says Jeff Costa.
Some helpful tips for those planning to boat:
  • 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 someone more visible to other boaters and will keep them afloat, significantly improving their chances of survival.
  • Do not paddle alone: Always paddle with a partner and know how to get back into the boat if someone falls overboard. When paddling with a partner, it is easier to get back into a boat or reach shore safely.
  • Dress for cold water: Paddlers should dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Water temperatures can vary greatly around the state during the spring, but all still are 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: Make a float plan that includes your planned boating location, expected time of departure and return and who to call in case of emergency. Provide the plan to someone at home and call them once you are back ashore safely.
  • Maintain a proper lookout: Springtime can bring higher water levels in rivers which can dislodge items like docks, pilings, and trees. These can be found floating down rivers and into Long Island Sound. Boaters should be especially vigilant this time of year when they get out on the water to look for and avoid floating debris.


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