Darien’s coastal water commission posts kayak safety tips near water
Working with the Town of Darien and Darien Police, Darien’s Commission on Coastal Waters has created safety posters for Darien kayakers as Darien beaches open on Thursday, May 7.
Chairman Bill Cavers told The Darien Times the safety flyers will be posted to the town and boating clubs kayak and paddle board racks this season. Cavers said it is especially important during the spring and highlighted the recent kayaking incident in Stamford as an example of the dangers.
On the front of the flyer, the tips are summarized. Tips include wearing a life jacket, leaving a float plan with family, wearing a signaling device in case you need to call for help, and remembering Darien’s waters, though it may be sunny out, are still dangerously cold.
The back describes each tip in more detail. A summary is below.
Wearing a life jacket can greatly reduce drowning. The U.S. Coast Guard recorded 449 drownings from U.S. boating activities in 2018. Of these deaths, 356 or 79% of the victims were not wearing life jackets and 134 or 30% of the deaths involved kayaks, SUPs, canoes or rowboats. Clearly, wearing a life jacket can greatly reduce your chance of drowning. In Connecticut, you are required to have a life jacket for each person on board at all times.
A “float plan” is a description of a kayakers intended plans on the water to give to family or friends prior to commencing a boat outing. Should you not return at the time specified in your plan, it allows an informed search to start immediately. A float plan can be simple (projected route, departure time, predicted time back) or hopefully more comprehensive (adding names of co-paddlers, cell phone numbers, all possible destinations along the way, etc.). Experienced paddlers and boaters use Float Plans.
Kayakers should carry a signaling device because water can be unpredictable. Weather can deteriorate rapidly; fatigue, hypothermia and dehydration can sap judgment and physical abilities; and accidents can happen. In many of these situations, being able to call for help is crucial. There are many ways to call or signal for assistance: whistles, hand-held VHF marine radios, flares, distress flags, waving of the arms over one’s head. A whistle and VHF radio are highly recommended.
Know that the water is very cold. Immersion in cold water is immediately life-threatening if you’re not wearing a full wetsuit or drysuit. Many canoe and kayak paddlers drown from hypothermia or cold shock very soon after capsizing in cold water. Darien’s waters are cold enough (50-65 degrees) in May and early June, as well as in late October and November, to cause both. Kayakers, paddleboarders and other small boat users should either “dress for immersion” or consider keeping off the water.
Look for these flyers anywhere water is accessible in Darien and take the tips seriously.