Cold Water Boot Camp's Mark Chanski, educates attendees at the cold water boating safety event in Sag Harbor, about the dangers of hypothermia and how to prevent it. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

Coast Guard Station Montauk and Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 18 recently hosted a cold-water safety event in Sag Harbor, New York. The event, which included speakers and presentations from Cold Water Boot Camp’s Mark Chanski, a boating educator in Connecticut, and members from the East Hampton Ocean Rescue Squad and tours aboard Station Montauk’s 47’ motor lifeboat, was intended to educate boaters and paddlesports enthusiasts about the dangers of cold water and cold-weather excursions.

“Viewers may think they would never go boating when the water is 45 degrees, but this happens all too often,” said Maria Bouboulis, the flotilla commander of Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 18. “Once March and April roll around with the occasional 60 degree days, people head onto the water. They may not know that the water temperature is still dangerously cold and hypothermia can set in quickly. An unexpected bump or a wave may capsize a boat, canoe or kayak, throwing the person into the water.”

Some of the key messages from the event were to educate boaters and paddle sport enthusiasts about:

  • Coast Guard Auxiliary Division 18 members prepare information tables for the public inside Sag Harbor's Bay Street Theater. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

    Always wear a properly fitted, Coast Guard approved, lifejacket.

  • Know what to do in case of an emergency before you head out onto the water.
  • Ensure that you have an “If Found” sticker on watercrafts such as: canoes, kayaks or paddleboards. This will help reduce the number of false distress cases for the Coast Guard and partnering emergency response units in the event the watercraft is lost or becomes adrift.
  • Know the dangers of hypothermia, how quickly it can affect you and how to protect yourself against it by wearing the proper coldwater equipment, including a lifejacket.

New York State law requires that everyone aboard pleasure vessels less than 21’ (including rowboats, canoes and kayaks) wear lifejackets from November 1 to May 1.

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