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Many are not aware of new life jacket law

FINGER LAKES—As of May 1, a state law requiring all boaters to wear life jackets regardless of age is no longer in effect.
It went into effect Nov. 1, for boats smaller than 21 feet. However, according to Schuyler County Deputy Sheriff David Centurelli, only about half the people who went out onto the lake were aware of it. He explained the Schuyler County’s navigation unit went out to the docks early in the morning several times during the season to tell people about the law.
“Some are still not aware,” he added.
Centurelli explained he didn’t know why people were unaware of the law. He said it had been in print and advertised. However, Centurelli added that some of the people who didn’t know about the law were visitors from Pennsylvania.
He explained that the law went into effect after a number of deaths during off-season boating, when the water is colder. Centurelli said when people fall into the water when it is cold, they have less chance of survival. However, he added it has been several years since someone drowned in cold water without a personal flotation device in Schuyler County.
Melanie Smith, a Horseheads resident who owns a boat with her husband at the Village Marina, said they were aware of the law. While their boat exceeds the 21 feet length, she said they keep life jackets on board for everyone and always make their grandchildren wear them.
After May 1, children under age 12 will still be required to wear life jackets when a boat is in operation, unless when in an enclosed cabin.  Boaters will also be required to have life jackets available for everyone on board.

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