HARRISBURG, PA — Following heavy rains ushered in by Hurricane Ida earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is reminding boaters to use added caution on and around the water throughout the Labor Day weekend.
“While the heavy rains have passed and the sun may be shining, high and muddy water conditions will remain on many rivers, creeks, and streams for several days and well into the Labor Day holiday weekend,” said Laurel Anders, Director of the PFBC Bureau of Boating. “Even if your local area did not receive large amounts of precipitation, waters downstream of the storm will continue to flow higher than normal and present dangers to boaters. If there is any question about the safety of your boating trip due to weather, don’t go.”
PFBC states that boaters should refrain from entering high, fast-moving, and muddy water that offers low visibility and can prevent operators from seeing submerged obstacles like large rocks, downed tree limbs, and other debris. Use caution while walking along streambanks, which may remain muddy and slippery, and can lead to falls into fast-moving water. Keep children away from the streambank during periods of high, fast-moving water.
“If you do plan to go boating this holiday weekend, consider visiting a lake, where the impact of the storm may not be as great,” added Anders. “Always wear a life jacket. Unfortunately, there have been seven boating-related fatalities this year, and most of the victims were not wearing life jackets. We have seen these tragedies happen in even the most favorable of conditions, so boaters should take even stronger precautions around periods of inclement weather, including in the days following a heavy rain.”
According to PFBC boating accident reports, roughly 80% of all boating fatalities occur annually because boaters were not wearing life jackets.
Throughout the year, boaters who are considering heading out onto the water should familiarize themselves with the waterway in advance. Map out your trip and create a float plan that includes several places you can stop along the way for a break, check the local forecast, and if needed, ride out a passing storm. Heavy winds and fast currents can make paddling more difficult when you are trying to get yourself off the water. Boaters can add an extra layer of protection by investing in a portable NOAA weather radio. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.
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