Regulation Passed by PFBC
Inside the Outdoors, October
19, 2012

As of Nov. 1, all persons kayaking, canoeing or boating are being told they must wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device during the cold weather months from Nov. 1 through April 30 while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length.

“Many people may not realize it, but cold water is a major factor in boating fatalities,” stated the Pennsylvania Boat and Fish Commission officials. “People have been known to die in water that is less than 70 degrees F.”

The PFBC representatives went on to state, “Cold water shock causes an involuntary gasp (often resulting in aspiration of water), hyperventilation, breathlessness and a reduced ability to control breathing and swim. A life jacket greatly increases one’s chance for survival in cold water. It also increases the amount of time for one to be rescued,” they said. Boaters will be required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD or life jacket) beginning the first of Nov.

These dates were chosen because many waterfowl hunters go out in search of their game using boats to conquer their efforts. They will often reach overboard while setting or retrieving decoys, retrieving downed game and “may have dogs entering and exiting one’s boat. Worse yet, one may stand or move quickly in the heat of the hunt. Any of these activities may result in an unexpected fall overboard,” the press release stated.

One can pick from a number of different PFDs available to the public “that offers comfort and maneuverability for the shooter. Several Type III and V-left jackets have been specifically designed for waterfowl hunters. These styles do not interfere with the fit of your firearm and are often available in a variety of popular camouflage patterns,” it said.

Since we are on the topic of survival in cold waters, the PFBC has added tips one should consider when it comes to cold water survival. They are:

a.) Always wear a life jacket.
b.) Never boat alone.
c.) Leave a float plan and know the water one plans to boat.
d.) Bring a fully charged cell phone in case of emergency.
e.) Wear clothing that still insulates when wet, such as fleece, polypropylene or other synthetics.
f.) If one is in the predicament of falling into the water, cover one’s mouth and nose with one’s hands.
g.) If possible, stay with the boat. Get back into or climb on top of it.
h.) While in the water, do not remove any clothing.
i.) If one can’t get out of the water, get into the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP). According to en.wikipedia.org, “HELP is a way to position oneself to reduce heat loss in cold water. It involves essentially positioning one’s knees together and hugging them close to the chest using one’s arms. Furthermore, groups of people can huddle together in this position to conserve body heat, offer moral support and provide a larger target for rescuers. The HELP position is an attempt to reduce heat loss enough to lessen the effect of hypothermia. This is a condition where, essentially, bodily temperature drops too low to perform normal voluntary or involuntary functions. It can cause damage to extremities or the body’s core.”
j.) Once out of the water, get out of the wet clothes and warmed up as soon as possible.

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Talked to Rich Rohrbaugh, owner of the Angler’s Room here in Latrobe. I asked what flies are on the lakes nowadays. I saw trout recently jumping out of the water.

He told me that since the lake was recently stocked, these fish will jump out of the water to try to get rid of lice that have clung to them as a result of them being raised in hatchery compounds. “When they jump out of the water and then splash down, they are attempting to release the lice that has lodged themselves in the slime of the fishes skin.”

In case you are unaware, Keystone State Park Lake is now drawn down seven feet, which makes it very difficult to catch fish. Besides, in these rainy conditions, walking in the mud is very treacherous, unless you don’t mind sinking down and getting very muddy. Die-hard fishermen will do that you know…


- Paul J. Volkmann
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