The Coast Guard on Friday issued an urgent safety advisory for all boaters and paddlers planning to venture out on inland or coastal waters of the Northeast. After the week’s flooding, many rivers and streams are predicted to crest, creating stronger-than-usual currents and unforeseen eddies and rips. Additionally, gale-force winds have toppled trees and stirred up branches and debris on inland waters, creating hazards above and below the surface. This debris, along with low bridges, can have “serious, uncorrectable consequence for unsuspecting paddlers and small boaters,” the Coast Guard said.
Coast Guard First District Recreational Boating Safety Specialist Al Johnson warned boaters and paddlers to be fully aware of the dangers. “Moving water at this time is fast, frigid and unforgiving,” a news release quoted Johnson as saying. “Until the waters recede, we advise people not to go.” “Unfortunately, there will be those that do,” Johnson said. “So if a poor decision overrides common sense, make sure you’re wearing a life jacket, properly attired for immersion in extremely cold water and leave a will. Anyway you want to say it, flood waters are dangerous.”
Currents are especially fast and turbulent at “entrance areas,” David Vallee, hydrologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service’s Northeast River Forecast Center in Taunton, Mass., said in a related news release. Johnson advised all early-season boaters and paddlers to be fully aware of the dangers and be prepared for sudden cold-water immersion. “In addition to wearing a life jacket, a wet or dry suit is essential for survival this time of year,” he said.
WEARING a life jacket is mandatory in Massachusetts until May 15.
Johnson recommended that anyone who isn’t properly equipped or prepared for cold-water survival should wait for summer weather. Boaters, paddlers and fishermen can check water conditions at the U.S. Geological Survey Real-Time Water Data website at http://water.usgs.gov/realtime.html and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hydrologic Information Center – River Stages website at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hic/current/river_flooding/Stages.htm.