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Cold Weather Boating "Wear It!"
October 20, 2010

Harrisburg, PA– When sunny days and fall foliage tempt the boater in you, don’t forget about your life jacket. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) strongly encourages boaters to wear their life jackets on Pennsylvania waters.

“According to Pennsylvania’s boating accident reports, almost 80 percent of all boating fatalities happen to boaters not wearing a life jacket,” reports PFBC Boating & Watercraft Safety Manager Ryan Walt. “During the cold weather months boaters are especially at risk due to the water temperature and the risk of sudden cold water immersion.”

Sudden cold water immersion is one of the main reasons people drown during the cold weather months. When a person is unexpectedly plunged into cold water below 70ºF, the body’s first response is usually an involuntary gasp. This is something no one can control and ruins the ability to swim because the person hyperventilates.

“There is a wealth of new research on cold water survival which states that wearing a life jacket significantly increases a person’s chance of survival,” Walt said.

Without a lifejacket, a victim may inhale while under water (involuntary gasp) and drown without coming back to the surface. This can only be prevented by wearing a life jacket at all times while on the water.

Life jackets are available in a wide variety of sizes and styles to fit every person and recreational opportunity. Inflatable life jackets fit easily over fall jackets and don’t interfere with casting a fishing rod or reeling in a late-season lunker. Float coats provide extra protection from the wind and cold while providing the same buoyancy as a more traditional life vest. Inflatables and float coats are often available in camo patterns for fall hunting activities involving boats. Children’s life jackets come in fun colors and designs with extra straps to ensure a secure fit.

"Remember, life jackets are the most important piece of safety equipment on a boat and there’s no excuse not to wear it," added Walt.

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. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at

Eric Levis

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