The Coast Guard says that while the temperature outside may be warming, the waters of the mid-Atlantic are still extremely cold, hovering around 40-degrees, and can quickly cause hypothermia.
Boaters who take to the water are advised to carry the appropriate gear they would for any winter boating trip, such as an immersion suit, in the event of a maritime emergency. In addition, boaters are advised to ensure their communication equipment, such as a VHF radio, is operational and they file a float plan, so in the event of an accident, first responders will be able to search with better accuracy.
“Wearing regular clothes like jeans or a sweatshirt under a life jacket provides little protection against the cold water. While the air temperature can be warm, hypothermia can take place within minutes of entering the water,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Mary Doyle, a boatswains mate at Coast Guard Station Atlantic City. “For boaters and kayakers to be safe in the winter, they need to be wearing a life jacket, waterproof cold weather gear and have reliable communications onboard to call help.”