The tragic drownings of a Kane couple on the Allegheny Reservoir last week are a grim reminder of the need to wear a personal flotation device - a life jacket, if you will - while you're on the water.
The need is particularly acute in the months between November and April, when water temperatures plummet to well below 50 degrees. Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of falling into one of the county's trout streams in any except the warmest months will tell you, that water hurts. They'll also tell you that it doesn't take long for the limbs to go numb and for muscles to stop working.
A member of the McKean County water rescue team summed it this way: You have a 50 percent chance of swimming 50 feet in water that is 50 degrees. Fifty feet isn't much distance when you're on the Allegheny Reservoir, and can seem like 5 miles when you have rolled your canoe in November.
A life jacket can improve your chances of survival significantly.
Since a change in boating regulations that went into effect earlier this month, wearing a PFD in winter and early spring months isn't just a good idea; it's required under the state's boating laws.