Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Portland, ME

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000 NOUS41 KGYX 201221 PNSGYX PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT...NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAY ME 820 AM EDT SAT MAY 20 2017 ...THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WILL OBSERVE MAY 20th THROUGH MAY 26th AS NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK... Yesterday we discussed the threat of cold water immersion with a new Beach Hazards Statement to address the threat of paddle craft risk along our cold North Atlantic ocean waters. However, the threat of cold water drownings expand inland as water temperatures in our larger lakes are currently not much warmer than the ocean with readings in the lower to mid 50s. Water temperatures and a complete lakes forecast package for Sebago lake and Lake Winnipesaukee can be found http://www.weather.gov/gyx/recreation Cold water is defined as any water with a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Boaters should always be aware of the dangers of cold water, particularly during the early part of the boating season when the water is colder and where there are not many other boaters around to help. The first hazards of cold water are panic and shock. The initial shock can severely strain the body and may cause instant cardiac arrest. Survivors of cold water accidents often describe having their breath "knocked out" of them upon their first impact with the water. Disorientation may also occur after cold water immersion. Recent annual boating statistics issued by the United States Department Of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard indicate that water temperatures resulted in 103 deaths with water temperatures in the 60s. Another 140 fatalities occurred nationally with water temperatures in the 50s, while 56 cases occurred with water temperatures in the 40s. In Maine, there were a total of 32 accidents and 18 fatalities during the year. In New Hampshire, there were a total of 53 accidents resulting in 4 fatalities. Several of these accidents occurred on warm, sunny days, but with very cold water temperatures on the lakes, rivers and the ocean during the springtime. So please allow for extra caution if boating early in the season. Be on alert for gusty winds or choppy seas that can easily capsize a small craft. The frequency of boating accidents vary considerably. However, trends begin to appear when reviewing statistics nationally. The following are annual boating statistics, courtesy of the United States Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security executive summary... * In recent boating statistics, the coast guard counted 4158 accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2613 injuries and 42 million dollars of damage to property as a result of recreational boating accidents. * Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and of those, eight-five percent were not reported as wearing a life jacket. * Only twenty-five percent of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. Eight out of every 10 boaters who drowned were using boats less than 21 feet in length. * Operator inattention, improper lookout, operator inexperience, excessive speed and alcohol rank as the top five primary contributing factors in accidents. * Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents; it was listed as the leading factor in 17 percent of the deaths. * Twenty two children under age thirteen lost their lives while boating. Only two of those drowned were wearing a life jacket as required to do so by law. * The most common types of vessels involved in reported accidents were open motorboats (forty seven percent), followed by personal watercraft (17 percent) and then cabin motorboats (15 percent). Again, to increase your safety, consult the forecasts before venturing out on the lakes. Complete forecasts for Sebago Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee can be found at http://www.weather.gov/gyx/recreation $$

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