STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Department of Safety, Marine Patrol Bureau
Fish and Game Department
April 1, 2010
Contact: Sgt. Josh Dirth, N.H. Marine Patrol, 603-293-2037
Jane Vachon, N.H. Fish and Game Department, 603-271-3211
SAFETY OFFICIALS WARN OF SPRING WATER HAZARDS
CONCORD, N.H. – The N.H. Marine Patrol and Fish and Game Department urge New Hampshire residents and visitors to use extreme caution and use appropriate safety equipment when boating on the state’s waterways during the early spring weather.
Recent heavy rain has left the state’s lakes, rivers and streams at or near capacity. Kayakers and canoeists should use extreme caution and those with little or no experience should consider staying off the waterways.
“Rivers and streams are running very fast and water temperatures are still very low. For an inexperienced or improperly equipped boater these conditions can be fatal,” said Capt. Mark Gallagher, chief of the state Marine Patrol. “The fast moving current can easily cause a small vessel to overturn and with the cold water temperatures hypothermia will set in very quickly. Even people wearing personal floatation devices are at risk.”
Many more boaters will be on the water with the start of open-water lake trout and salmon fishing on April 1.
"Make sure you have all the proper safety equipment with you when you head out on the water, and know how to use it," said Col. Martin Garabedian of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
Additionally, with lakes at or near capacity boaters are advised to keep their wakes to a minimum. With these water levels a vessel’s wake can cause shore erosion and in some cases damage structures. Floating and partially submerged debris is also a hazard to vessels.
Most New Hampshire boating fatalities happen in early spring. As the air temperature warms people tend to forget that the water temperature is still very cold. N.H. Fish and Game and other agencies are continuing to search for the victim of a probable drowning last week under similar high-water conditions; the kayak of Alan J. Benjamin, age 65, of Rochester, Vt., was found overturned in the Connecticut River on March 25.
Everyone on the water should wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitting personal floatation device and file a float plan. Individuals kayaking or canoeing on rivers and streams should consider wearing wetsuits in addition to personal floatation devices.