Influx of novice boaters and paddlers is worrying Pa. lake patrol officers concerned with safety

Written by on July 17, 2020

Influx of novice boaters and paddlers is worrying Pa. lake patrol officers concerned with safety

By Megan Frank

July 17, 2020

Photo | Megan Frank / WLVR

Pennsylvanians have taken to area waterways like ‘fish’ since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The influx of novice boaters and paddlers is worrying lake patrol officers concerned with safety. WLVR’s Megan Frank went for a ride-along with a waterways conservation team to learn some boating basics. 

According to the state Fish and Boat Commission, there’s been a 50 percent increase in boating license registrations this year.

Before taking off on a boat or a kayak, it’s important to keep several safety measures in mind. 

Waterways conservation officer Travis Miller patrols Lake Nockamixon in Bucks County. He says there’s been a surge in people out on the water who are boating or paddling for the first time.

The Fish and Boat office suggests people make a checklist of items for their trip, including a bell or whistle – to call for help. But Miller says the number one safety precaution is wearing a life vest. 

“Eighty percent of our boating fatalities across the state were not wearing a life jacket. I’ve dealt with three boating fatalities in my career. One, unfortunately, happened at this lake last year. It’s very sad to talk to family members and tell them that a loved one is not going to be coming home.”

On average, there are 10 boating fatalities a year in Pennsylvania. But the Fish and Boat office has already recorded seven boating-related fatalities so far this year.

A boating safety class is mandatory for people operating a personal watercraft like a motorboat.

Visit PA Fish and Boat’s “Boating Basics” page for more safety tips.

A state-approved boating safety course is available online and costs just under $35. Regardless of your age, you’ll need the boating safety certificate if you’ll be operating a personal watercraft (PWC). You also need this if you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, and will be operating a boat over 25 horse power. Click here to learn more about the Pennsylvania Boating Safety Course.

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