Water and Ice Safety
Almost everyone knows how enjoyable time on the water can be. Don't let a moment of carelessness ruin your fun. An inadvertent fall in the water can be an amusing story afterwards, or it can result in tragedy -- ALWAYS wear a life jacket when you are on, in, or near water. Follow the tips and links on this page for important safety information.
More info on our Ice/Winter fishing page, including ice/winter fishing destinations.
Paddlers - Canoes and Kayaks
Paddling sports are very popular recreational water sports in Pennsylvania. There are dangers that can be lessened with knowledge, preparation and practice. Primary hazards are capsizing, swamping or just falling out of the boat. Keep in mind that paddling is a “get wet” sport.
- Wear your life jacket. Some 80 percent of all recreational boating fatalities happen to people who are not wearing a life jacket.
- Expect to get wet and dress properly. Even the best paddlers sometimes capsize or swamp their boats.
- Be prepared to swim. If the water looks too hazardous to swim in, don't go paddling.
- If you capsize, hold on to your boat, unless it presents a life-threatening situation.
- Scout ahead whenever possible. Know the river. Avoid surprises.
- Be prepared for the weather. Get a forecast before you go.
- Wear wading shoes or tennis shoes with wool, polypropylene, pile or neoprene socks.
- Never take your boat over a low-head dam.
- Portage (carry) your boat around any section of water about which you feel uncertain.
- Never boat alone. Boating safety increases with numbers.
- Keep painter lines (ropes tied to the bow) and any other ropes coiled and secured.
- Never tie a rope to yourself or to another paddler, especially a child.
- Kneel to increase your stability before entering rougher water, like a rapid.
- If you collide with an obstruction, lean toward it.
- File a float plan (PDF) with a reliable person, indicating where you are going and when you will return. Remember to contact the person when you have returned safely.
Paddling Safety Links