The Oregon Marine Board said there have been five springtime boating fatalities on Oregon’s waterways during COVID-19.

All have two things in common: cold water, and a failure to wear life jackets.

The marine board is urging boaters with canoes, kayaks or stand-up paddleboards to dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.

The water is cold.

“We are concerned,” said Randy Henry, the board’s boating safety program manager. “People are anxious to get out and have fun, but water is serious business.

“If you go boating, wear your life jacket, buckle it up and make sure it’s a snug fit. Always dress appropriately - and if you’re paddling, dress for the water. A dunking this time of year can be deadly.”

Of the five boating fatalities thus far, three of the victims were in paddlecraft (kayaks and a canoe) and two were in motorboats. All of them fell overboard unexpectedly into cold water, which is trending unlike what the marine board said it has seen in past years.

Those new to paddling are urged to take a free, online paddling course to learn about self-rescue, how to re-board a paddlecraft, equipment requirements and other safety skills to develop.

Start out on calm, flat water and slowly progress to other waterbodies as skills develop.

Additionally, the agency has received reports of debris and obstructions on the waterways. Visit the agency’s waterway obstruction page to learn where objects have been reported and recommendations on how to avoid them.

In addition, the agency’s interactive Boat Oregon Map is a resource for helping boaters with their planning and preparation.


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