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Cold Water Safety

11/26/2018 10:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Most of us enjoy Presque Isle State Park in the warm summer months when swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, etc. are most popular. However, in the winter months, the park has much to offer as well. Skiing, hunting, and ice fishing are all great activities that can get us outdoors on chilly days.

Safety on the park and in the water surrounding it is always a primary concern for the Presque Isle Lifeguard Association. Even though the lifeguards are not on duty in the winter, there are some very important safety tips and regulations to ensure everyone has a fun and safe experience on and around the park during our cold Erie winters!

According to the PA Fish and Boat Commission, as of 2012 Coast Guard approved PFDs (Personal Flotation Device) are now required to be worn from November 1stthrough April 30th while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak.  This is due to “cold water shock” which is a major factor in boating fatalities when water temperature is less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cold water shock can cause an involuntary gasp that can result in aspirating water and reducing even the best swimmer’s ability to regulate breathing and swim. In these cases, life jackets and assuming the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (legs tucked to chest, arms wrapped around knees) can greatly increase chances of rescue and survival.

Here are a few common-sense tips for cold water safety. Check out the links below for more comprehensive information about cold water regulations, safety, and survival.

  • Never go out on the ice alone.
  • Let others know when and where you will be when recreating on ice
  • Know how thick the ice is, test with augers
  • Minimum thickness recommendations per DCNR
    • 4” of solid ice for a single person
    • 7” of solid ice for a small group
    • 6” of solid ice for iceboating
  • Wear a PDF
  • Bring a fully charged cell phone in case of emergency
  • Wear clothing that still insulates even after getting wet
  • Do not remove clothing when in cold water

PA Fish and Boat Commission

DCNR Ice Fishing Information

Cold Water Boot Camp


Presque Isle Lifeguard Association

Phone: 814.833.0526

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