Boaters, paddlers urged to take safety precautions before heading out on the first trip
As more moderate weather arrives across the state, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation welcomes boaters and anglers to take advantage of New York State's abundance of recreational waterways, while encouraging them to take common-sense precautions to stay safe.
"After a particularly long cold winter, the now-longer days and warmer temperatures have many boaters thinking of that first trip out on the water for the year," State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. "But before venturing out, be prepared for the unexpected. While the air temperatures have finally become more pleasant, the water temperatures are still extremely cold and will remain so throughout the spring months. Wearing a lifejacket is the best way to stay safe now and throughout the year."
For a safe and enjoyable boating season, State Parks recommends the following:
•Until May 1, lifejackets are required to be worn by everyone on any boat less than 21 feet in length. Unexpected immersion in water less than 70 degrees poses a much greater risk of drowning. Wearing a properly zipped and/or buckled lifejacket will likely keep a person's head above water and support his or her body should swimming ability fail or they become unconscious due to cold-water immersion. The Coast Guard estimates 80 percent of all boating deaths might have been prevented had a lifejacket been worn.
•Beginning May 1, all boat operators born on or after May 1, 1996, are now required to obtain a safe boating certificate by completing an eight-hour safe boating course. Courses may be completed and certificates obtained through State Parks, U.S. Power Squadrons, or the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Previous law only required the operator of a personal watercraft or any youthful boat operator to obtain a safe boating certificate. A new law signed by the governor phases-in this existing requirement to all boaters beginning with those born on or after May 1, 1996. A list of approved courses is available on the State Parks website: http://nysparks.com/recreation/boating/safety-courses.aspx.
•Keeping track of a state safe boating certificate is easier thanks to the governor's "Adventure License" initiative. If you have taken an approved safe boating course and received your state safe boating certificate, with just a few easy steps you can choose to have your certification also reflected on your state driver's license, non-driver ID or learner permit as a small anchor icon. This DMV designation will eliminate the need to carry your boating safety certificate with you when boating (visit http://licensecenter.ny.gov/nys-adventure-license).
Each year throughout the Empire State, more than 1 million boating enthusiasts enjoy a variety of recreational boating and paddling opportunities. A 2004 New York Sea Grant study found recreational boating in New York had an annual economic impact of $1.8 billion and accounted for 18,700 jobs.
The State Parks Marine Service Unit is responsible for the general coordination of boating safety programs and supports marine law enforcement efforts across the state, including patrols, training and funding for local marine enforcement activities.
For more information about boating safety - including listings of boating safety courses - and marine recreation in New York, visit www.nysparks.com/recreation/boating.