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Why Wear a Life Jacket?


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In Pennsylvania any boat under 16’ in length or canoe, kayak, paddle board must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times whether underway or anchored between November 1 to April 30th.

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My brother-in-law is on the dive team.  He risks his life diving in muddy lakes with no visibility feeling around for bodies.  He doesn't like doing it either.  It's not rewarding work.  

 

So then why do it?  Why risk YOUR life to recover the body of someone else?  Because the family wants it back.  Because these are drinking water reservoirs and people will not drink the water if there's a dead body in it.  And because no one wants to take their kids to a lake and have them scarred for life when a dead and bloated body washes up on to the bank.  So it has to be done.  

 

My point being, not wearing a PFD puts more lives at risk than just your own.  Need more convincing?

 

https://vsp.vermont.gov/memorial/gaboury

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2 hours ago, Bankc said:

My point being, not wearing a PFD puts more lives at risk than just your own.  Need more convincing?

This is spot on. Kudos to your BIL.

This is another pet peeve of mine. A great many people focus on their "rights" (fill in any issue) instead of their obligations to their fellow man. Pretty sad.....

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9 hours ago, Bankc said:

My point being, not wearing a PFD puts more lives at risk than just your own.  Need more convincing?

Based on how many boaters I see without a PFD, no amount of convincing is going to change their mind. The only way it changes if it becomes state law. But maybe that is coming based on some comments in this thread.

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10 hours ago, GaryH said:

In Pennsylvania any boat under 16’ in length or canoe, kayak, paddle board must wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket at all times whether underway or anchored between November 1 to April 30th.


this is the same for New Jersey except it’s any boat whatsoever. I’ll have to check the date but that’s about right. For me, if the water is below 55 or so there is no question. 

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For what it's worth..... It's not only an issue of water temperatures. Accidents occur in warm weather and they are unplanned. A medical emergency can incapacitate you and make any perceived mitigation responses invalid. In a controlled environment, try to swim or remain afloat with just one arm and one leg (possibly simulating a stroke). Just something to think about.

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The effects of emersion are different for everyone and there are some factors not listed here

that come into play.  However there has to be a base line.

So when the 'professionals' are en route to rescue you or are planning  possible body recovery efforts, this is what they expect to find. 

Stay Safe.

A-Jay

1141603712_coldwater.thumb.png.722b37dbccbcb003bcfdc24c8948215f.png

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Many years ago (decades), I entered very cold water (app. 37°) to bathe on an extended camping trip. It literally took seconds to have my strength literally sucked out of my body. It was both shocking and enlightening how quickly I was losing my ability to move around effectively. At that time I was in far better physical shape than I am now. This has stuck with me through the years.

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1 hour ago, Crow Horse said:

Many years ago (decades), I entered very cold water (app. 37°) to bathe on an extended camping trip. It literally took seconds to have my strength literally sucked out of my body. It was both shocking and enlightening how quickly I was losing my ability to move around effectively. At that time I was in far better physical shape than I am now. This has stuck with me through the years.

I know those polar bear club people love doing that kind of stuff and find it exhilarating.  And I've heard stories of people hitting cold water and just instantly shutting down.  Like they're awake and conscious, but completely paralyzed.  And then you've got the Tibetan monks who practice g Tummo and can survive long periods of time in below freezing temperatures without any clothes on.  

 

It could go so many different ways for you, that it's hard to know what'll happen until after it's already happened.  

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On 2/7/2024 at 11:05 AM, Bankc said:

Because these are drinking water reservoirs and people will not drink the water if there's a dead body in it.  

Oh yes they will! There are unfortunately lots of bodies in the TN river and millions of people including myself drink the water. I found a body in little river once and I know other fisherman that also have , it supplies the city of Maryville with drinking water. And that’s just a tributary. It’s honestly hard to keep track of how many times a body is found just in the water I fish, all the more reason to WEAR A LIFE JACKET

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So now we all know how dangerous cold water can be, with or without a life jacket, it begs the question, how do folks that fish from kayaks or canoes prepare for cold water fishing? Has anyone taken a dunk when it’s cold, if so how’d you handle it? I don’t think I could right a canoe anymore, much less in stone cold water.

 

Does anyone conform to the chart AJ posted? I know I should, but I don’t. I’m not out there when it’s cold, too old for that, I only do what it says when the waters 80 degrees and up, which it may not even get to here. First you’ll see me is a water temp of about 50, the best I do is stay relatively close to shore.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, padlin said:

how do folks that fish from kayaks or canoes prepare for cold water fishing?

I dress in layers and always wear my PFD.  I keep a change of clothes in my truck and fish smaller waters.  

 

As far as going in, I went in last March to grab one of my rods that slipped from my hands while switching it for another.  Water temps were about 40 degrees.  It wasn't  a problem.  I swam myself and kayak a short distance to the shallows, hopped back in and pedaled back to my truck to warm up and dry off.

12 minutes ago, padlin said:

Does anyone conform to the chart AJ posted?

As far as conforming to this chart, no, I don't.  I'm not going to buy a dry suit for the few times a winter I fish.  

 

It is the same information we're taught in my Fire Department.  All our apparatus have cold water rescue equipment.  

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4 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

Oh yes they will! There are unfortunately lots of bodies in the TN river and millions of people including myself drink the water. I found a body in little river once and I know other fisherman that also have , it supplies the city of Maryville with drinking water. And that’s just a tributary. It’s honestly hard to keep track of how many times a body is found just in the water I fish, all the more reason to WEAR A LIFE JACKET

 

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1 hour ago, padlin said:

So now we all know how dangerous cold water can be, with or without a life jacket, it begs the question, how do folks that fish from kayaks or canoes prepare for cold water fishing? Has anyone taken a dunk when it’s cold, if so how’d you handle it? I don’t think I could right a canoe anymore, much less in stone cold water.

 

Does anyone conform to the chart AJ posted? I know I should, but I don’t. I’m not out there when it’s cold, too old for that, I only do what it says when the waters 80 degrees and up, which it may not even get to here. First you’ll see me is a water temp of about 50, the best I do is stay relatively close to shore.

 

 

 

I'm not on the water if the water is under 40 degrees.  I've done it once or twice and its just not worth it.  Even the lightest breeze across that temperature of water is frigid.  Above that, I'm also layering like others.  I'm not wearing a drysuit or neoprene.  I'm layered in thermals/fleece/waterproofs to keep me dry from spray.  In freshwater it is practically impossible to flip my particular kayak, so my risk is in falling out for some reason.  I take fewer risks and more breaks when its cold water.  If its windy I just don't do it.  I also don't do big water early in the season.  A lot of the earlier season places I'm fishing I could stand up and walk to shore if I fell out.  If I do get caught out in the open some where, first task is to get closer to shore. 

 

That happened once last year maybe (maybe the year before?).  Fishing my usual early season lake, about 40-42 degree water, overcast and light breeze (4-5 mph).  As I motored to an offshore hump I was surprised by the wind that stirred up from behind me.  It was 5 mph at the ramp but 10-15 in the middle of the lake.  I was going with it and didn't notice until I stopped.  When I stopped and realized it, I just kicked the motor back on and made for the next spot near the shoreline.  It isn't worth the risk of fighting the wind and waves in the middle of the lake like that. I ended up making a full lap of the shoreline and lake that day because running back to the ramp across the middle was a no go.  The wind picked up even more (the forecast was very wrong that day) so I stayed in the lea of the hillside to get back.

 

I used to swim in cold water for various 'things' be it triathlons, lifeguarding, teaching, etc.  I've been in sub-50 water (just a swimsuit) and its bracingly cold.  The worst is the first immersion when your body contracts and it rips the breath out of you.  If you get over that and can calm your heart rate and steady your breath then you have a chance of managing it.  Panic and you're done.  Its much easier said that done.

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4 hours ago, TnRiver46 said:

Oh yes they will! There are unfortunately lots of bodies in the TN river and millions of people including myself drink the water. I found a body in little river once and I know other fisherman that also have , it supplies the city of Maryville with drinking water. And that’s just a tributary. It’s honestly hard to keep track of how many times a body is found just in the water I fish, all the more reason to WEAR A LIFE JACKET

Okay, you got me!  SOME people won't drink the water.  

 

I have no problem with it.  Our city's water filtration system is so good, it's almost close to adequate.  It's even been ranked "potable" from time to time!

 

But I think for some people, it's more of a religious thing.  Like they don't want to meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates and have to fend off accusations of cannibalism on a microscopic technicality.  Meanwhile I've eaten enough of my wife's hair in dinner meals over the years, that that ship has long since passed.  

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23 hours ago, Bankc said:

I know those polar bear club people love doing that kind of stuff and find it exhilarating.  And I've heard stories of people hitting cold water and just instantly shutting down. 

 

2 hours ago, padlin said:

Has anyone taken a dunk when it’s cold, if so how’d you handle it? I don’t think I could right a canoe anymore, much less in stone cold water.

 

 

I've been in a few times in the winter while duck hunting and fishing, but I remember one incident vividly. It was in early March. I was wearing a military Mae West. I hit the water and I was paralyzed by the cold. Fortunately I was pulled back into the boat a few minutes later. Had I not been wearing the life vest I think I would have just sunk. 

 

 

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28 minutes ago, Bankc said:

But I think for some people, it's more of a religious thing. 

 

If you are ever on the banks of the Ganges River in India, your opinion of "clean" water with corpses floating by is going to change dramatically.  The fecal count alone in that river isn't even measurable anymore, and when people can't afford health care, they get tossed into the river instead.  You can forget about trying to catch any fish, they are all dead in that cesspool.

 

Be grateful for infrastructure and water treatment that we have here.  And the robust population of fish, comparatively.

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@padlin, I fell out of a 14’ boat last winter in jeans boots Sherpa lined hoodie and a life jacket. I was somehow back on board before I had time to think . It was a sunny day but I was a tad surprised I wasn’t colder, I almost kept fishing but thought better of it. Not recommended but adrenaline is amazing, I couldn’t have been in for 5 seconds. Under normal conditions in swimming trunks and 85 degree water I don’t think I could hoist myself into that boat but in that brief moment in ultra heavy wet clothes I could move mountains to get out of the cold water 😂 

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Wearing a PFD is not only smart while in a boat. I see many of fisherman wading in the Salmon river and the Oswego river in New York without life jackets and without a wader belt. Pure stupidity. A few years back on the Salmon river in early February with the air temperatures in the minus temps. I slipped and went head first into the cold —- water. Thankfully I had a wader belt on and was able to stand up and get out of the river pretty quick. Without the belt my waders would have filled up and whether I could have gotten up is anyone’s guess. Until we all stop thinking we’re invincible we will keep seeing stories about people drowning for no good reason other than bad common sense.

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When I retired at 56 I bought my Mustang inflatable and a pair of studded wading boots for solo night striper fishing off the breakwaters in RI, a lot can go wrong on a rainy windy night. Secondary use was for the canoe although it’s now flip flopped.

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Not a life threatening situation. Imagine being in the water with heavy clothes on. It wouldn't have a very good ending.

 

In this situation, we towed him and his yak back to the launch site. There wasn't any practical spot to exit the water other than the launch site. It wasn't a long tow but it took 2 yaks and a great deal of effort to bring him to shore.turtledcloeup.jpg.3583f47e882802ce13dd849f4c64efce.jpg

1 hour ago, padlin said:

When I retired at 56 I bought my Mustang inflatable and a pair of studded wading boots for solo night striper fishing off the breakwaters in RI, a lot can go wrong on a rainy windy night. Secondary use was for the canoe although it’s now flip flopped.

I used to be a beach rat/jetty jockey. Jetties were the most dangerous at night. I once was swept off a jetty by a "rogue" wave. I was very lucky. It could have ended badly. In retrospect, an inflatable PFD would have been the right thing to wear.

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7 minutes ago, cyclops2 said:

Wear a life jacket.

 

Prevent an injured rescuer trying to help you.

Good to hear from ya buddy! 

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11 hours ago, GaryH said:

Wearing a PFD is not only smart while in a boat. I see many of fisherman wading in the Salmon river and the Oswego river in New York without life jackets and without a wader belt. Pure stupidity. A few years back on the Salmon river in early February with the air temperatures in the minus temps. I slipped and went head first into the cold —- water. Thankfully I had a wader belt on and was able to stand up and get out of the river pretty quick. Without the belt my waders would have filled up and whether I could have gotten up is anyone’s guess. Until we all stop thinking we’re invincible we will keep seeing stories about people drowning for no good reason other than bad common sense.

A while back I posted a story of a stupid thing I did when fishing for Steelhead in February on the Salmon river that was similar to what you just posted. My only comment would be that standing up in the river with waders full of water isn't that big a problem, as they are neutrally buoyant while you are in the water...but they get REALLY heavy when you try to get out of the water. There is also the problem of almost instant hypothermia from the cold water that now is in your waders. ALWAYS wear a wader belt.

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On 1/31/2024 at 9:41 AM, Crow Horse said:

This might help. I keep mine in a zip lock bag with a Zerust "tab" (VCI) to prevent rust & corrosion.

I keep my really good ones (Knipex) at home in my fishing tool box.

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There's a model of these on amazon, I think listed as mini bolt cutters. I know they work because I had to cut a heavy hook out of my hand. So I ended up with "wow that was unpleasant, deep EWG's can't be pulled with braid" instead of "wow that was unpleasant, and expensive at the ER too".

 

I have only my non-dominant hand free, and the other hand is hooked. Maybe even a flopping fish on the other treble. I'm alone. Now what? 

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