Officials from Vermont Fish & Wildlife are reminding anglers, hunters and boaters to use personal flotation devices (PFD) and exercise safe practices while on the water this fall.
“With migrating waterfowl and fish feeding up for the winter, the fall season can bring some of the best fishing and hunting action of the year to Vermont’s waterways,” said Col. Jason Batchelder, chief warden with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “That being said, the fall also means cooling water temperatures and often strong winds that can create risks on the water. We strongly urge folks to wear a PFD and err on the side of caution at all times to help prevent any life-threatening situations.”
The lower water temperatures found in the fall can greatly increase the risk of hypothermia in the event of an on-the-water accident.
“Using a life jacket can significantly increase a person’s chances of survival in a cold water accident scenario,” said Batchelder. “Cold water causes a rapid drop in body temperature which can lead to the loss of swimming ability and strength, gasping and the inhalation of water, and unconsciousness. While a PFD won’t prevent heat loss, it will keep you afloat if you go overboard and could ultimately save your life.”
Vermont boating laws require that all vessels carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD for each person on board. Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must also have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type IV PFD on board. Also, children under 12 years of age must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II or III PFD at all times while any vessel is underway.
Additionally, New York State boating laws, which apply to waters on the New York side of Lake Champlain, require all persons aboard motorboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats and sailboats less than 21 feet in length to wear a PFD while on New York waters from November 1 to May 1.
Vermont Fish & Wildlife also encourages sportsmen and women to properly plan for a fall outing on the water by ensuring that they have all required safety equipment such as visual and audible distress signaling devices, plenty of warm clothing, and an updated weather forecast. Strong winds are common in the fall and can sometimes make for dangerous conditions on larger bodies of water such as Lake Champlain.
To learn more about boating safety and Vermont’s boating laws, visit http://www.boat-ed.com/vermont/handbook/