A message from the National Park Service

Wear a life jacket and shoes

River safety is simple; without it, it’s deadly

Posted 7/7/21

UPPER DELAWARE RIVER — You’ve come to the river to have a great time. But whether it is fishing, boating, swimming, or floating. being on or near the river has its risks, and everyone …

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A message from the National Park Service

Wear a life jacket and shoes

River safety is simple; without it, it’s deadly

Posted

UPPER DELAWARE RIVER — You’ve come to the river to have a great time. But whether it is fishing, boating, swimming, or floating. being on or near the river has its risks, and everyone should follow safe river practices. One of the most important pieces of safety equipment is the life jacket, which will keep you afloat if you find yourself in the river intentionally or unintentionally. Not everyone truly understands the importance of wearing a life jacket, or they are not worn properly. Without it, in an instant, a fun river trip turns into a nightmare.

Unfortunately, since Memorial Day weekend, four people have drowned while boating, swimming, or wading in the Upper Delaware River. Three were not wearing a life jacket and the fourth wasn’t wearing a properly fitted life jacket. This brings the total number of drownings since 1980 up to 73. Another died in the river below Port Jervis, which is not part of the Upper Delaware designation.

Beyond wearing a life jacket and some sort of footwear, it is important to remember that boating and alcohol don’t mix. Alcohol can impair decision-making and response time in an emergency situation. Think twice about boating or swimming under the influence, and consider whether the risk of drowning is worth it.

Sudden drop-offs, deep holes, and swift currents are typical of the Upper Delaware River. This is why most drownings in the Upper Delaware River occur while swimming.

Here are a few rules to keep you safe:

  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Never swim alone and do not try to fight the current.
  • Walk carefully and wear protective footwear, as the Delaware River is unpredictable. Rocks in the river and along the bank are slippery.
  • If you step into deep water, float with the current on your back with your feet forward and close to the surface to fend off any rocks until you are able to move toward the shore.
  • Never stand up in fast-moving water; your feet or legs could become trapped, allowing the current to push you under.
  • If your boat capsizes, be ready to help yourself. Keep upstream of the craft. The force of the water can easily pin you between your vessel and a river obstacle. (Release your boat only if it improves your safety. A canoe, even filled with water, is a good floatation device.)
  • Never tie a life jacket into a vessel. A life jacket tied to a boat cannot save your life.

All vessels on the Upper Delaware are required to have a readily accessible, wearable type, coast-guard approved life jacket for each person on board. Inner tubes are considered vessels on the Upper Delaware and require life jackets. Children 12 and under are required to wear their life jackets when boating on the river. When wearing a life jacket, it is important to make sure it is properly fitted and secured.

Before you go out into the river, find out what to expect by calling the River Information Hotline at 845/252-7100. This recording is updated daily with reports of air and water temperatures and river heights.

The National Park Service reminds river users to follow these safety tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to one of America’s most scenic and recreational rivers.

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