Life Jacket Required: New Rules for Boaters

PALMYRA TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- November arrives on Thursday and with it some mandatory safety requirements if you're heading out on the water.

On a windy fall day like this, Lake Wallenpaupack is choppy and chilly. Don't let the sun fool you, the temperatures are going down and Robert Drake of Dickson City is fighting to keep his boat from tipping.

"It's very windy today, a lot of white caps. Getting bounced around like a bobber," Drake said.

Drake and other boaters do all they can to put safety first, so this time of year, they're sure to wear a life jacket. In cold waters without a life jacket, the Fish and Boat Commission says the results could be deadly. Drake isn't taking any chances.

"You'd probably freeze to death in about 20 minutes. The water temperature is 52 degrees and it's not too bad. Couple weeks and it's going to get really cold."

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission wants to remind boaters in kayaks or canoes that they need to wear a life jacket starting November 1 through April because of the cold water on any waterway in the Commonwealth.

While Terry Erney of Allentown helped get his boat out of the lake for the day, he's always reminded of the potential for disaster if you don't follow the rules and wear a life jacket and end up going overboard.

"They say you've got 10 minutes and you start going numb. Gets below that in the 40s and you don't have much time at all," said Erney.

According to Fish and Boat Commission officials, nearly eight out of 10 boating deaths in Pennsylvania happen because the victim is not wearing a life jacket and a large number of them happen between now and April.

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