Life jacketsHaving handled too many tragic boating accident cases over the years, I am in favor of any new laws that contribute to better safety on the water.

In September, New York became the first state with a comprehensive life jacket law that will save lives during some of the most dangerous months of the year for boaters. Fall into spring, the waters in our region are colder and deadlier.

Lifejackets are now required for EVERYONE in all small pleasure craft during the six coldest months of the year, when capsized boaters drown faster in chilly water. According to an Associated Press story on the new law, “Falling into cold water can trigger shock, disorientation or gasping and inhaling water. Immersion can lead to hypothermia and passing out.”

Starting Nov. 1, anyone out on the water in a craft less than 21 feet long must be wearing a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device.

The rule, in effect through May 1, applies to kayaks, canoes and motorboats on lakes, waterways and the ocean.

If you are foolish enough to break the new law, you could be in for a fine of $100 to $250.

We have so many beautiful lakes in the Finger Lakes, each with its own distinctive character. Lamoka Lake and Waneta Lakes, small enough to freeze over in the winter and provide an escape for ice-racing or ice-fishing.

Seneca Lake offers spectacular views, wineries (the biggest Wine Trail in Finger Lakes wine country!) and fantastic boating. I think its very depth (estimated to be up to 630 feet) adds to its calm – and is one of the best insulators for the micro-climate that makes vineyards viable in this area of upstate New York.

Cayuga Lake has the inlet, with great restaurants and the Ithaca Farmers Market; Keuka Lake offers charming Hammondsport, of course. And Keuka Lake — a Y-shaped lake is a real-estate dream. I think the view from the deck at Esperanza Mansion rivals anywhere in Europe. The Finger Lakes is the most beautiful lakes region in the world. after all (see my previous blog post, “Finger Lakes Tops List of ‘World’s Best Lakeside Retreats’ “).

I don’t want to miss mentioning the smaller Finger lakes, Conesus, Cazenovia and Hemlock, as well as the “thumb,” lovely Oneida Lake.

In the Rochester area, you can enjoy a historic waterway, the tranquil Erie Canal. A little close to home, at least from my perspective in Elmira, we have the gorgeous Chemung and Susquehanna rivers.

The point I mean to make is that we have a unique and wonderful access to an incredible natural resource. There is no reason to take an unnecessary risk, and the new life jacket law is an added incentive to do the safe thing.

Thanks for reading,

James B. Reed, Esq.
NY Boating Accident Lawyer
Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William St., Elmira, NY 14902
Tel. (607) 733-8866 Fax. (607) 732-6062
Toll Free 1-800-943-3529