By LT. WILLIAM BROWNE
Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement
As the weather cools, wearing an overcoat becomes a nearly automatic equipment choice for enjoying the outdoors.
At the same time, many people recreating around water seem to forget about wearing another, more vital type of jacket — a life jacket.
That’s a mistake that can be life threatening during a season when many enjoy kayaking or canoeing, duck hunting from a johnboat, or taking a late-winter ice-fishing trip.
Water temperatures plummet, increasing the chance of hypothermia and the risk of drowning, particularly if a person goes overboard while not wearing a life jacket.
Indiana law requires all vessels to carry one wearable U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation device for each person on board. In addition, vessels 16 feet in length or longer (except a canoe or kayak) must have one USCG-approved PFD on board and readily accessible.
Common sense, however, requires that you wear a life jacket at all times while on the water, no matter what the season.
“Cold water brings additional concerns to the recreating public,” said Indiana Boating Law administrator Lt. Kenton Turner. “Life jackets are a yearlong priority and should be the first thought on everyone’s mind when enjoying Indiana’s waterways.”