PORT DOVER - In the past few weeks Norfolk County has been experiencing a heat wave, giving us temperatures we would normally see in May.
Boaters are taking advantage of this mild March temperatures to hit the waterways several weeks earlier.
The Canadian Coast Guard opened a handful of seasonal Search and Rescue stations on Friday, almost three weeks earlier than the traditional start days.
This is the earliest open date for the station in Port Dover. Commanding officer Sondi Ryersee of the Port Dover rescue station said the crew had already seen several boats out on the water before noon on opening day.
Ryersee warns boaters and beach-goers alike, that while the temperature in the air may be almost 80 degrees F, the water remains much cooler.
“The water is not as warm as you think it is,” said Ryersee.
Residents need to be careful near the water because it is still cold enough to cause hypothermia in a relatively short period of time. Hypothermia can cause lack of coordination, a slower heart rate and disorientation.
The Coast Guard doesn’t want to discourage boaters — as long as they are properly prepared to be out on the water.
“We want to see safe boating,” said Ryersee.
She always urges boaters to wear a personal floatation device, pay attention to the weather, and ensure someone knows where you are headed and when you will be back.
“At the beginning there’s less boats out there, so there’s less people to help you,” said Aubrey Billard, an engineer with the Port Dover rescue station. “It is even more important to be aware.”
If you are expecting someone to return from a boating trip and you are worried about their safety, the Coast Guard urges you to call the marine and air search and rescue at 1-800-267-7270.
“When in doubt, always call. The sooner we get searching the better,” said Ryersee. “You can’t make up for lost time.”
Rescue stations in Kingston, Cobourg, Port Weller, and Amherstburg also opened on Mar. 23.
519-426-3528 ext. 112