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May 14, 2009

Harrisburg, PA - Boating safety experts want to get something off their chest and onto yours: a life jacket. The importance of flotation devices and other watercraft safety tips are the focus of the 2009 National Safe Boating Week, May 16-22.

As part of the campaign, the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) is airing a 30-second public service announcement on radio stations across the state from May 11 through Memorial Day, May 25. The radio spot can be heard on the PFBC website at

 “People tend to think of boat accidents in terms of collisions – and that is the most common type of reportable boat accident in Pennsylvania,” said Dan Martin, director of the PFBC Bureau of Boating and Access. “But the accidents that are killing people are the ones where somebody falls overboard, or swamps a small boat and then ends up drowning. And those are precisely the accidents where a life jacket can make all the difference.”

Life jacket graphicLife jackets can be the determining factor between life and death in many boating safety accidents. Each year, on average, 700 people die in boating-related accidents nationwide – eight out of every 10 victims were not wearing a life jacket. In Pennsylvania last year, eight individuals were killed in recreational boating accidents, and only one individual was wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident. Three of the victims were on powerboats, four were in canoes and one was in a kayak.

National Safe Boating Week is scheduled each year as the first full week before Memorial Day weekend ( Memorial Day is often thought of as the unofficial start of warm weather and boating season in Pennsylvania. Boaters should note that it is already the law that children 12 years of age and younger must wear their life jackets when underway on any boat 20 feet or less in length and on all canoes and kayaks.

For more information on boating safety, including information on taking a boating safety education course, visit the PFBC’s web site at The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities.

Regional Media Contacts – Please contact a regional outreach coordinator for more information and to set up on-the-water interviews with Waterways Conservation Officers.

NW Region (Counties – Butler, Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Lawrence, Mercer, Venango, Warren)

Keith Edwards
(814) 336-2426

SW Region (Counties - Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland)

Denny Tubbs
(814) 443-9841

North and South Central Regions (Counties – Cameron, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Elk, Jefferson, Lycoming, McKean, Montour, Northumberland, Potter, Snyder, Tioga, Union, Adams, Bedford, Blair, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Perry, York)

Spring Reilly
(814) 359-5193 or (717) 705-7850

NE Region (Counties - Bradford, Carbon, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Monroe, Pike, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne, Wyoming)

Walt Dietz
(570) 477-2206

SE Region (Counties – Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Montgomery, Northampton, Philadelphia, Schuylkill)

Ryan Walt


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