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As the 2024 Solar Eclipse approaches, Chautauqua County emphasizes boater safety for those planning to experience the celestial event on the water.

Noel Guttman, Director of Emergency Services, underscores the importance of preparedness, especially for both experienced and inexperienced boaters navigating the waters during the eclipse. “During those few minutes of darkness, it’s crucial for boaters to be vigilant,” says Guttman. “Many boaters might not be accustomed to navigating in the dark, so proper lighting and caution are essential.”

Key safety tips include ensuring the presence of life jackets and navigational lights or flashlights on canoes or kayaks. Guttman advises boaters to remain cautious of their surroundings, particularly in low-light conditions, and to avoid potential hazards such as walls and other boats. Additionally, he stresses the importance of using certified eclipse glasses to protect eyesight during the eclipse, which can be acquired free of charge from Chautauqua County Government.

“Proper life vests are essential for every person on board,” Guttman emphasizes. “These life-saving devices can significantly increase chances of survival in the event of an emergency.”

Guttman also highlights the significance of understanding water temperatures, noting that despite sunny weather, water temperatures may be as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the eclipse. “Even in seemingly mild weather, cold water exposure can be life-threatening,” he cautions.

To mitigate risks, Guttman recommends equipping boats with functioning radios for communication and maintaining proper boat maintenance. Additionally, boaters should inform friends and family of their plans before setting sail to ensure swift assistance in case of emergencies.

Chautauqua County Emergency Services, along with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office and other local fire departments, will strategically place navigation resources to respond to emergencies effectively. This proactive measure aims to address potential challenges in deploying rescue boats amidst a large influx of traffic on the roads during the eclipse. By adhering to these safety guidelines, boaters can enjoy the eclipse viewing experience while prioritizing their well-being on the water.

For more information and safety tips, and to learn where free eclipse glasses are available, visit the Chautauqua County website at CHQGov.com/eclipse.