Coast Guard promotes water safety and prepares for water emergencies

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 7:07 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine (WABI) - With boating season on the horizon, the Coast Guard has an important message for folks on the water this season.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Northern New England hosted its annual spring search and rescue and recreational boating safety conference.

It’s a chance to get together with Coast Guard Auxiliary, Maine Marine Patrol, and harbor masters.

The message, water safety in Maine, where the water can be a little tougher than other places.

U.S. Coast Guard Ensign Matthew Bartnick said, “The weather is warming up. People are starting to break out their water sport activities. But be aware that even though it may be 80 degrees outside, 75 degrees, and feel very warm, the water is still below 50 degrees, and you will be hypothermic in a very surprising amount of time. And on top of that, the hypothermic shock that your body encounters when you fall in the water, this temperature can very quickly lead to drowning. So, if you’re going to be out in the water in the early time of the year, or any time of the year, for that matter, wear a life jacket.”

Another safety item is getting a big push this year.

U.S. Coast Guard Chief Boatwain’s Mate, Jake Shelters said, “We have the ‘If found’ stickers that we asked everyone to put on their kayaks or paddle crafts. Those benefit us as well as the user, if their kayak or canoe floats free due to a high tide or winds, we can get it back to you. We know whose craft it is, and those aren’t cheap.”

But it’s not just for lost property purposes.

It can also be a sign if boaters are in danger.

In the past, the Coast Guard has spent countless hours and resources on unnecessary search and rescue attempts.

“If we can see the sticker, and we can contact you, and if you’re at home on your couch, and you say, ‘Yep I lost my paddle craft.’ and all is good, we can stop the search. But, if you don’t answer the phone, then we know, hey, this might be an actual search and rescue case, and we’re going to keep searching,” said Bartnick.

This conference at Station Southwest Harbor was also an opportunity for the station’s new Officer in Charge to get know his new post and the people helping to keep Mainers safe on the water.

Shelters said, “I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to be in Maine. I can’t believe I’m finally here. So, I’m absolutely excited to serve the people in the community. And I know I’ve got a great team around me just from today’s meeting, getting to meet the crew here, great support system. These guys know what they’re doing. So, they’re going to make my job so much easier.”