Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Portland, ME

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NOUS41 KGYX 201221

820 AM EDT SAT MAY 20 2017


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

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

* Seventy percent of all fatal boating accident victims drowned, and
  of those, eight-five percent were not reported as wearing a life

* 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

* 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

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