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Fifty-six people entered the river but did not come out. Fifty-six people drowned in the Upper Delaware River since 1980. Fifty-three were male. Twenty-nine were swimming or wading. The average age is just 28. The number wearing a life jacket? Zero!
Many people enjoy swimming or wading in the river but are unaware of the dangers. Sudden drop-offs, deep holes, and swift currents are typical of the Upper Delaware River. Most drowning in the Upper Delaware River occurred while swimming. Wear a Life Jacket. Never swim alone and do not try to fight the current. If you step into deep water, float with the current until you are able to swim toward the shore. A Life Jacket, throw-line and first aid kits are recommended. The Delaware River is unpredictable and rocks in the river and along the bank are slippery. Walk carefully and wear protective footwear.
Always wear a properly fitted Life Jacket. 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. Three of the 56 river victims had life jackets but were not wearing them properly.
Never tie a Life Jacket into a vessel. A Life Jacket tied to a boat cannot save your life. If your boat capsizes, be ready to help yourself. Keep upstream of the craft; float on your back with your feet forward and close to the surface to fend off any rocks. Never stand up in fast-moving water; your feet or legs could become trapped, allowing the current to push you under. Release your boat only if it improves your safety. A canoe, even filled with water, is a good floatation device, but be sure to stay upstream of your vessel. The force of the water can easily pin a person between their vessel and a river obstacle.
Before you go out into the river, find out what to expect by calling the River Information Hotline: (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.
Public Service Announcement text:
Many people enjoy swimming, wading, or boating in the Delaware River but are unaware of the dangers. Unlike a swimming pool or lake, sudden drop-offs, deep holes, and swift currents are typical of the Upper Delaware River. Most drowning occurs while swimming or wading so wear a Life Jacket whenever you are in or on the water.
Before you go out into the river, find out what to expect by calling the National Park Service River Information Hotline at (845) 252-7100.