May 7, 2015

Invest in a vest: boating law requires use of approved life vests

With ice gone from state waters and fishing seasons opening up, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is urging anglers and boaters to be aware of the cold water conditions that come with the start of spring.

“The spring season offers some of the best fishing of the year in Vermont, and can also be a very enjoyable time for boaters to get out on the water before the busy summer season begins,” said Col. Jason Batchelder, warden with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. “That being said, we’d like to remind anglers and boaters to exercise safe practices and be conscious of the cold, high and swift water that exists in various bodies of water across the state.”

The lower water temperatures found during the spring season can increase the risk of hypothermia in the case of an on-the-water accident. Sudden immersion in cold water can also lead to loss of strength, gasping and inhaling water, the inability to swim, and rapid loss of consciousness.

“The use of a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is paramount at this time of year, given that it can significantly increase the odds of survival in cold-water situations,” Batchelder said.

Vermont boating laws require that all vessels carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II, III or V PFD for each person on board. Vessels 16 feet or longer must also have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type IV PFD on board. Also, children under 12 years of age must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved Type I, II or III PFD at all times while any vessel is underway.

“Often the first few warm, sunny days of spring can be misleading as water temperatures remain in the high 30s and 40s throughout Vermont,” said Batchelder. “We strongly encourage folks to get out on the water and take advantage of the outdoor opportunities available in Vermont this spring, but just remember to be prepared and make good decisions. That goes for anglers fishing along streams and rivers also, as high water from melting snow can create strong current.”

To learn more about boating safety and Vermont’s boating laws, visit

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