Wear It! Cold Weather On-Water Safety Tips from New York Sea Grant: Law Restarts November 1
Great Lakes Boating & Marine Trades - Press Release

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These New York State Parks signs encourage paddlesport enthusiasts to wear a life vest. Photo: New York Sea Grant/Brian P. Whattam

Oswego, NY, October 19, 2016 - New York Sea Grant is reminding boaters, canoeists, kayakers, anglers and hunters who enjoy being on the water through the fall season that New York State law requires anyone in a boat that is less than 21 feet long on New York waters to wear a Coast Guard-approved floatation device from November 1 to May 1.

“The goal is to keep people safe as they enjoy great natural resources across New York State across all four seasons,” says Coastal Recreation and Tourism Specialist Dave White, based with New York Sea Grant at the State University of New York, Oswego, NY.

“We urge people to learn about the different types of U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets and float suits, select the one that is the best fit for their activities at different times of year, and, the key point, wear it,” White adds.

White says the seasonal law is focused on shorter length boats for a reason.

“The November to May law is primarily for people in kayaks, canoes and rowboats as open vessels that sit low on the water; the use of which often extends into the colder season. A life jacket, particularly if it is brightly-colored, helps rescuers more quickly locate someone who has fallen into the water and may be at risk for hypothermia. A life jacket extends the opportunity for rescue and survival.”

White notes that New York has a lot of open water all winter long and suggests that those fishing in waders in streams also wear a floatation device and use the buddy system.

Life jackets are required year-round for children under 12, everyone on a personal watercraft, and anyone being towed by a boat.

A new safety initiative by the New York State Parks Bureau of Marine Services increases the visibility of kayakers with reflective Safe ‘n Sight decals applied to each side of a paddle. The decals can be requested by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to NYS Parks Marine Services Bureau, Safe ‘n Sight Stickers, Albany, NY 12238. A street address is not required.


New York Sea Grant educational exhibits at boat shows and other events often display this rack of the different types of life saving floatation devices. Photo: New York Sea Grant/Brian P. Whattam


More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark and at SUNY Oswego. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Manhattan, in the Hudson Valley through Cooperative Extension in Kingston and at Brooklyn College. 

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published several times a year.

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