With the weather warming, this is the time of year when people start putting boats back in the water. I want to remind everyone to think safety first. This year, there have already been two boating accident fatalities involving kayaks. In both cases, swift and cold water contributed to the accidents.
Lakes, ponds, and rivers and coastal waters are cold. Dress appropriately. Water temperatures this time of year average 40 degrees – a temperature that can cause hypothermia and offset even a strong swimmer's ability to swim safely to shore.
Rivers can be fast moving, especially with the recent record rainfalls. High water and swift moving water conditions lead to unpredictable water hazards, including floating debris. Keep in mind under Massachusetts law, people traveling in kayaks and canoes from September 15 to May 15 must wear a life jacket.
In addition to wearing life jackets, I urge boaters to check conditions of waterways before boating, take a boating safety course, operate boats only while sober and make sure their boats have safety equipment on board.