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Near drownings at NJ reservoir; remember to wear PFD

Always wear your PFD when kayaking, especially during cold water conditions. It could be the difference between life and death.
Always wear your PFD when kayaking, especially during cold water conditions. It could be the difference between life and death.
Duane Sedlock

A man and two teenage boys were rescued from the water this past Thursday by the Clinton First Aid & Rescue Squad from the Round Valley Reservoir after their kayak overturned. The boating accident was the second one in a week at the 2,350-acre man-made lake located in Clinton Township, New Jersey.

The water temperature at the reservoir was around 44 degrees on Thursday. Officials said that the three kayakers suffered hypothermia and were taken by ambulances to the hospital. It was not reported if they were wearing PFD's.

Also a canoe overturned there last Tuesday afternoon and two people in it swam safely to shore. They were deemed fine by the Clinton Rescue Squad.

Spring is here and air temperatures are warming, but the water temperature at area lakes and rivers is still very cold. So once again here’s a reminder that the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission regulations require life jackets to be worn on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak during the cold water season, from Nov. 1 to April 30.

Statistics show that boating accidents that occur during the cold water period are much more likely to result in death than accidents in warmer water. When water temperatures are below 70 degrees F., cold-water shock is a major factor in boating fatalities. Cold water shock causes an involuntary gasp reflex (often resulting in aspiration of water), hyperventilation, breathlessness and a reduced ability to control breathing and to swim. 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.

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 know 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 synthetics.
  • If you are about to fall into cold water, cover your mouth and nose with your hands. This will reduce the likelihood of inhaling water.
  • If possible, stay with the boat. Get back into or climb on top of the boat.
  • While in the water, do not remove your clothing in cold water.
  • If you can’t get out of the water, get into the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP).
  • Once out of the water, get out of the wet clothes and warmed up as soon as possible.

Click here to learn more about life jacket wear and cold water survival.