HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — With warm weather moving full steam ahead, winter-weary anglers and boaters are returning to the waters. That’s why the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is reminding boaters to always wear a life jacket.

Despite the warm air temperatures, water temperatures this early in the season remain bone chillingly cold — and potentially deadly.

In 2020, there were 11 boating-related deaths across the state. None of the victims who lost their lives were wearing a life jacket. Experts say many of these deaths could have been prevented by wearing a life jacket.

“Boating safety is something we take very seriously during every season in Pennsylvania, and these recent tragedies have again proven that this is extremely important in early spring,” said Colonel Clyde Warner, PFBC Director of Law Enforcement.  These life jacket requirements are in place to keep boaters safe whether they’re on large lakes, small creeks, or private ponds.”

From November 1 through April 30, boaters are required to wear a life jacket while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak.  This requirement applies even on private ponds.

Sudden cold water immersion is one of the main reasons people drown from capsizing or falling overboard in the early spring.

“Abide by the law and always carry life jackets onboard your boat, even when not required,” added Warner. “More importantly, wear them.”