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DEEP urges water safety as boaters take to the water for the first time this season

DEEP reminds residents visiting the state park swimming areas that while it may be hot out in the air, the water is still very cold.

CONNECTICUT, USA — With soaring temperatures this weekend, many residents may flock to popular swimming areas to cool off. 

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is urging all residents and visitors going to state parks to cool off to prioritize water safety. 

DEEP said that while the temperatures inland will reach record-breaking levels this weekend, the water temperatures in the Long Island Sound and other inland bodies of water still remain low.

RELATED: Tips for beating the heat and staying cool as temps start to rise

"Currently, water temperatures in Long Island Sound are in the low 50-degree range, while summertime temperatures range from the high 60’s through the low 70’s. Many inland waterbodies also remain in the 50-degree range," said DEEP. 

Since it's before Memorial Day Weekend, the state parks will also not be staffed with lifeguards, so it'll be a swimmer's own responsibility to make sure they stay safe.

"Most visitors will find the current water temperatures much too cold to enter the water to cool off on what will be very hot days," said DEEP. "There is also a very real danger of hypothermia for swimmers, particularly children, who enter the water for any extended period of time."

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DEEP provided reminders for anyone looking to venture into the water this weekend: 

  • Watch your children
    It only takes seconds for a child to drown, and this can occur silently. Please ALWAYS watch your children; if you are more than an arm’s length away, you’re too far!  
  • Be aware of underwater hazards
    Natural swimming areas can have sudden drop-offs, inshore holes, large rocks or tree roots that can’t be easily seen from the surface. Diving and jumping into these waters can be hazardous. Please be careful of these unseen dangers.  
  • Swim only in the designated areas  
  • Take a swimming lesson
    Increasing your water safety knowledge and swimming skills can help save your life. People of all ages should consider signing up for a swimming class offered at your local YMCA branch, American Red Cross Chapter, or municipal parks & recreation department.   
  • Drink responsibly
    Excessive alcohol consumption impairs judgment and reaction ability. Even prescription drugs may impair judgment.  

RELATED: Weekend happenings around Connecticut, May 20-22

This weekend also kicks off National Boating Safety Week and DEEP also provided safety tips and reminders for anyone going out on the water:

  • 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 you more visible to other boaters and will keep you afloat, significantly improving your chances for survival.   
  • Do not paddle alone - Always paddle with a partner and know how to get back into your boat should you fall overboard. When paddling with a partner, it is easier to get back into a boat or reach shore safely.  
  • Dress appropriately - Paddlers should dress for the water temperature not the air temperature.  Water temperatures can vary greatly around the state during the spring, but all are still 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 - Let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Make sure you let the person know when you are home safely and identify who to call if you don’t.   
  • Maintain a proper lookout -  Damaged docks, pilings and trees may be floating down rivers and into Long Island Sound.  Boaters should be especially vigilant when they get out on the water to look for and avoid floating debris.  

To learn more on how you can stay safe this weekend, head here.


Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.  

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