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Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Now in Mandatory Cold Water Life Jacket Wear

The National Park Service reminds everyone that may be out on the Upper Delaware River this fall or winter in a boat, canoe, or kayak that each person, regardless of age is required to wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (life jacket or PFD) during these cold weather months.  This regulation is effective immediately through April 30, 2023.


This mandatory cold weather life jacket wear regulation was established in 2012 by Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and can do a great deal to be effective in saving someone’s life during these cold-water boating months.  Cold water shock is a major factor in boating fatalities when water temperatures are less than 70 degrees.  It happens quickly when someone is suddenly immersed in cold water.  The water does not have to be freezing; cold water shock often occurs in water temperatures above 50 degrees.  Wearing a life jacket in these conditions greatly increases the chance of survival and will save lives.  Those wearing a life jacket when exposed to cold water have potentially life-saving advantages such as insulation from the cold, buoyancy, and reduced risk of aspiration of water.  Without wearing a life jacket, your chances of survival in a cold-water immersion are greatly decreased.


If you do plan to be out fishing, boating, duck hunting, or ice fishing on the Upper Delaware River between now and next April, here are some cold-water survival safety tips:  Always wear a life jacket, even when not required.  Many models also offer insulation from cold air.  Never boat alone.  Leave a float plan and be familiar with the waters you plan to boat.  Bring a fully charged cell phone with you in case of emergency.  Wear clothing that still insulates when wet such as fleece, polypropylene, or other synthetic materials.  If you are about to fall into cold water, cover your mouth and nose with your hand to reduce the likelihood of inhaling water.  While in the water, do not try to remove your clothing.  If you can’t get out of the water, get into the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP) by pulling your knees toward your chest.  Once out of the water, get out of the wet clothes and warm up as soon as possible.


“Life jackets save lives. Wearing a properly fitted and fastened life jacket is essential, especially when the water temperatures drop. Cold-water shock happens quickly and can impair your ability to self-rescue. Wearing a life jacket gives precious time to get safely to shore”, said Acting Superintendent, Kara Deutsch. Since 1980, there have been 77 drownings on the Upper Delaware River, however no one has ever drowned wearing a properly fitted life jacket.  No matter the season, safety on the water is everyone’s responsibility!

Photo Caption:  Fall is a great time to paddle the Upper Delaware River.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.




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