In late 2009 a new state law took effect that has implications for some boaters. The law, meant to help protect boaters, makes it mandatory for all occupants of a recreational watercraft to wear a personal flotation device. The law only applies to watercraft under 21 feet in length and during the boating off-season, November 1 to May 1.
The law came as a response to a number of off-season boating deaths. In a typical year, only about a quarter of boating fatalities in the state of New York tend to occur in the off season.
The off season presents a greater danger than the summer months for most boaters. This is because of the temperature of the water Cold water is considered to be water that’s less than 68 degrees. Water below this temperature can cause a sudden cardiac arrest, it can lead to the loss of swimming ability and reduce a person’s grip strength. Eventually, cold water can lead to hypothermia and unconsciousness. When you combine all of that with a general scarcity of other boats on waterways during the off season it can be a deadly mix.
According to the new New York State law, everyone on the boat is required to wear a personal flotation device that’s approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. It must be of a size appropriate to the wearer, and it must be worn any time the boat is in use. Boaters on lakes, rivers, streams and any other waters in the state are subject to the law. The exception is boaters that are on privately owned waters, as well as commercial boats and members of an organized boat racing team.
Children under the age of 12 are also required to wear a personal flotation device when they’re on any boat less than 65 feet long unless they’re inside a fully enclosed cabin.
As always, carrying boating insurance will help protect you and your passengers in the event that there is an accident of some sort.