HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is reminding adventurous boaters life jackets are required from now until April 30.
The requirement includes wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket while in motion or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or on any kayak, canoe, or paddleboard. This goes for all Pennsylvania waters.
“Boaters should be aware that water temperatures begin to drop rapidly at this time of year, and even on sunny days when air temperatures are comfortable and warm, the water can be cold enough to put boaters at risk for sudden cold-water immersion. A life jacket can keep your head above water until help arrives,” PFBC Boating and Watercraft Safety Manager Ryan Walt said.
PFBC is also warning adventure-seekers to be aware of cold-water shock, which is when someone is unexpectedly submerged into cold water below 70-degrees Fahrenheit, where then there’s a gasp and water is inhaled. This can cause panic and hyperventilation, causing issues when trying to swim.
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According to accident reports in Pa., almost 80% of all boating deaths happened because someone wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Before the requirement went into place in 2012, a disproportionate number of them happened between Nov. and April.
Since enacting the rule, there’s been a significant decrease in deaths.