Watertown, NY, October 19, 2011 - There's a new law for boaters. As seen in this clip from Watertown, NY-based WWNY TV 7, now, between November 1 and April 30, anyone in a boat 21 feet long or less needs to wear a life jackets.
"It's really because of a safety issue of being on really cold water, especially as we get into the winter months,"says Dave White, NYSG's Great Lakes program coordinator and recreation/tourism specialist.
So, why is the new law targeting smaller boats, those 21 feet long or less? "Smaller boats are really what you see most often. If you're in a 21 foot boat, usually you have a cabin, where you can get in and out of the weather more," says White. "It's really for people in kayaks and canoes, where there is more of a risk of falling out and into the water. And, in the winter, those users are going to be some really cold water, which can provide a shock to the system and increase the risk of that hypothermia sets in rather quickly." So, in the case of a recreational user falling out of his/her boat, the law "helps to extend their opportunity for survival and rescue."
"Also, during the course of the winter and spring, more people are out on the water alone. They're not with their family. They're out fishing or hunting. And, in this part of the world [eastern Lake Ontario shoreline], we have a lot of open water all winter long," he continues. These include the Oswego, Salmon and Black Rivers.
It is also highly recommened for any fisherman out on the water to wear a life jacket as well. "Even if they're not in a boat and are, instead, in waders, it's really easy to get caught, fall, get water in their waders."
White also encourages boaters and fishermen to keep the buddy system in mind for safety, especially during the winter months, while out in the resource.
For more information, call the Sea Grant office at 315-312-3042 or visit www.nyseagrant.org.
Since April 2006, White has been bringing Sea Grant's "message" to the morning masses at WWNY TV 7, a Fox affiliate in downtown Watertown, during one of the highest rated TV blocks in the "wake-up hours," the 6:30-7 am stretch.