- Associated Press - Sunday, April 20, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Vermont officials are reminding boaters and anglers to stay safe on the water and wear flotation vests.

New York law requires people aboard motorboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and sailboats less than 21 feet in length to wear a personal flotation device while on New York waters from November 1 to May 1, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. That law applies to Lake Champlain.

The law was enacted in 2009 after several deaths of those not wearing life jackets while boating during spring and fall cold water temperatures.

Additionally, children under the age of 12 must wear flotation vests at all time while boating on Vermont waters.

Even for experienced swimmers, sudden immersion in water can be life-threatening, said officials. Cold temperatures are especially dangerous.

“After a long winter, the sight of open water and the feeling of warm sunshine can give boaters a false sense of security,” Vermont State Fisheries Biologist Shawn Good said. “The reality is, the ice has just gone out, and water temperatures are still extremely cold. We encourage anglers and boaters to be cautious and safe while on any watercraft in the early spring.”

Regardless of season, officials say the best way boaters can protect themselves is with a life jacket.

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