Reminder: life jackets must be
worn on small boats until May 1

State Office of Parks and Recreation officials remind boaters that life jackets (PFD — personal floatation devices) are required to be worn on any boat less than 21 feet in length between Nov. 1 and May 1 due to cold water.

The physiology of cold water immersion includes an uncontrollable gasp reflex, causing hyperventilation, leading to unconsciousness or to swimming failure as limbs become numb. Having a life jacket on may keep your head above water and support your body should swimming ability fail or you become unconscious and greatly increases chances of rescue, parks officials explained.Of New York’s 25 fatalities associated with recreational boating in 2012, almost a third of those deaths involved small manually propelled watercraft, occurring either early or late in the season when water temperatures were cold. In almost every one of those fatal accidents life jackets were not worn and in some cases weren’t even on board at the time of the accident.

The Coast Guard estimates that 80 percent of all boating accident deaths might have been prevented had a life jacket been worn.

For information on safer boating and cold water risks visit www.nysparks.com.