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River Safety

While Pennsylvania only requires PWC Operators and individuals born on or after 1 January 1982 to operate boats with 26+ hp. Persons 12-15 operating boats with 10+ hp and all persons operating a personal watercraft (PWC) to complete a safe boating course, it is important to note that of the 11 boating fatalities during 2004, eight (8) were on boats that had no motors and therefore the operators were exempt from this requirement regardless of their age. Out of the 11, three were on boats with motors and only one of the 11 was wearing a Life Jacket (PFD).
Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.


The web site for the United States Power Squadrons District 5 is: Power Squadrons District 5

The web site for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary 5th Division North safe boating courses is: Auxiliary 5th Division North Safe Boating Courses.

The web site for the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary 5th Division North is: Coast Guard Auxiliary 5th Division North.


The America’s Boating Course ™ is a Self Study CD-ROM or Internet Course plus a 76 page, 4-Color Manual and a Proctored Exam. A Joint Venture Of and Student Mentoring by members of United States Power Squadrons and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Course is NASBLA Approved & U.S. Coast Guard Recognized. To order the course log onto the following website or call the toll free telephone Number. America's Boating Course (sample lesson included) or: 1-866-262-8222.
Students are mentored through the course by members of the USCGAux or USPS and are given a Proctored Examination and the PA State Specific Exam qualifying them for a PA State Safe Boating Education Certificate.

It should also be noted that the Boat Ed, PA On-Line exams are not accepted in some states which require either a Proctored Examination or in the case of New Jersey a course having a minimum of 8 hours of classroom instruction.


All boaters should have a USCG Vessel Safety Check performed on their vessel each year. The FREE examinations are performed by Certified VSC Examiners of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and the United States Power Squadrons. All required safety gear is inspected for condition and general safety discussions conducted. The web site to arrange for a VSC Examination is: Free Vessel Safety Check.

GENERAL RIVER SAFETY TIPS (these are only a few things to consider and by no means comprehensive)

Being prepared for the unexpected can mean the difference between life and death. The Delaware River is very dangerous. It has large hidden rocks, deep holes, swift currents and underwater ledges. You should never dive into the river or swim in unprotected areas. Fishermen should always wear a safety belt when wading, and fish from the shoreline when alone.

Rescuing a drowning person can be dangerous for the rescuer too
Drowning people often pull down would-be-rescuers by grasping and climbing on them. Always throw out something for them to grab onto such as a towel, paddle, rope or shirt. Once the person has grabbed onto this, keep a distance where possible between you and the person being rescued.

Other things to think about

  • Tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return, and where to call if you don't.
  • Make sure that your water skills and experience are equal to the river and the conditions.
  • Never boat alone. Always have at least one (preferably two) other boats with you on a river trip.
  • Wear a Coast Guard approved type III-V, properly adjusted life-jacket at all times when you are in or near the river.
  • Know your limitations.
  • Reduce injuries by wearing protective foot wear and proper clothing designed for river recreation.
  • Be prepared for extremes in weather, especially cold.
  • Know about hypothermia and how this can affect you and take precautions to avoid this.
  • Plan your trip and stick to your plan.
  • Stay away from the river during high water.
  • Never walk onto the ice when the river is frozen.

Other related pages:

Basic First Aid

Getting lost in the woods

Bad weather

Wilderness Trip Planning

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