ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. (WWTI) — The St. Lawrence River has started to sparkle again and boat traffic has picked up.

But just at the surface are dangers, according to the U.S. Coast Guard in Alexandria Bay. With recent high waters and spring snowmelt, large pieces of debris, such as trees and floating docks have been spotted in the area.

“If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going and the conditions in the River, it’s very easy to hit one of those and that can easily throw somebody or yourself out of the boat and into the water,” Alexandria Bay Coast Guard Station Chief Peter Nelson warned.

The waters also pose additional dangers. Currently, water temperatures in the St. Lawrence have only warmed up to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nelson said hypothermia can occur in less than an hour, which is a concern in emergency situations.

“By the time you could be rescued, it could be more than an hour floating in the water by yourself,” he explained. “So once hypothermia sets in, you lose all ability to keep yourself afloat and that’s when bad things happen.”

To avoid these risks, the Coast Guard recommends all boaters and passengers wear a life jacket regardless of their age.

“Drowning is the leading cause of death with all recreational boating accidents. And of those drownings, a little bit more than 80% of people were not wearing lifejackets,” Chief Nelson explained. “It’s vitally important that you have a life jacket on.”

Additional items the Coast Guard requires boaters to have on their vessels include navigation lights, ventilation, fire extinguishers and distress signals such as flares or horns.

Boaters should also have throwable flotation aid, a properly-adjusted compass, charts for the area, navigation tools, a boat hook, mooring lines, fenders, paddles or oars and a tool kit.

To prepare boaters in the Thousand Islands region for the upcoming season, the U.S. Coast Guard Alexandria Bay station will host an open house on May 20.

Attendees can meet the U.S. Coast Guard crew, tour the facility and vessels and interact with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Royal Candian Mounted Police, U.S. Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary will provide free vessel checks and static displays, safe boating and recruiting information will be on site. A search and rescue demonstration will be held at 1 p.m.

The open house will road from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the U.S. Coast Guard Station located at 45864 Landon Road, Wellesley Island, New York.