PROVIDENCE – With the trout fishing season opening on Saturday, April 14, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is reminding anglers – particularly those fishing from a boat – to exercise personal safety precautions while in pursuit of their first trout of the season. Anyone going out in a boat, canoe, kayak, or vessel of any kind should wear a life jacket to help ensure they enjoy a safe Opening Day fishing experience.

After a long winter, even on a warm day, water temperatures can linger in the low to mid-50s. According to a U.S. Coast Guard report, a boating accident is five times more likely to be fatal if the water is colder than 60 degrees. The Coast Guard also notes that eight out of 10 boaters who drowned were using vessels less than 21 feet in length. Using small, unstable vessels like canoes and kayaks in water that’s deceivingly cold puts anglers in a very dangerous situation. In 2016, the number of recreational boating deaths involving paddlecrafts such as kayaks more than doubled in Northeast waters, according to the Coast Guard.

U.S. Coast Guard statistics for 2016 also show that:

• Drowning was the reported cause of death in 80% of all boating fatalities. • Of those who drowned, 83% were not wearing life jackets. • Kayakers and canoeists accounted for 22% of all deaths reported. • Alcohol use is the leading contributing factor in all fatal boating accidents. • Where the level of instruction was known, 77% of deaths occurred where the operator did not receive any boating safety instruction.

“Cold water can kill in ways that you might not expect,” said Lieutenant Steven Criscione, boating safety coordinator for DEM’s Division of Law Enforcement. “Nearly everyone knows that immersion

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