Fish and Boat Commission Urges Boaters To Wear Life Jackets

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Harrisburg, PA — The PA Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) needs your help to remind boaters that May is a dangerous month for boating in Pennsylvania because warmer days give people the illusion that the water is warm as well.

“Cold water shock was the cause of 10 of last year’s 11 boating fatalities,” PFBC Bureau Director of Boating and Access Dan Martin said. “Wearing your life jacket will keep you on the surface, giving you a better chance of rescue and survival.”

Boating is a fun, safe sport, but things can go wrong, including fatal accidents.

“Over the past 10 years in Pennsylvania, an average of 13 boaters died each year in recreational boating accidents,” Martin said. “You can reduce your chances of becoming a statistic by boating responsibly.” Here’s how:

  • Take a boating course. It’s a fact that knowledgeable boaters have far fewer accidents on the water than those who do not take a safe boating course. Classroom, Internet and correspondence courses are listed on the Commission’s web site at For a comprehensive overview of safe boating information and regulations, read the Pennsylvania Boating Handbook, which is also available at
  • Wear your life jacket. Eighty percent of the people who are killed in a boating accident would probably still be alive today if they had simply worn the life jacket that was already available in their boat.
  • Drinking and boating do not mix. Being under the influence of alcohol is illegal while operating a boat. Just one or two drinks will affect your balance, making it much easier to capsize or fall overboard. As you continue to drink, alcohol affects your other senses and judgment. Be smart. Have a designated boat operator or refrain from drinking.
  • Take action. For starters, take a boating course at Then, go boating with an experienced operator who can “show you the ropes” or go to our website’s calendar and find a boating course near you!