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Both motorized and non-motorized boats in Pennsylvania must be registered and in compliance with all Pennsylvania regulations. For current boating regulations, as well as important safety information, visit the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website.
Whether a tiny trickle of a creek, enough to cool your toes, or the vast expanses of beaches, water provides an exciting element to outdoor recreation. Even the most seasoned of water enthusiasts can be surprised by changing water conditions. Enjoy your day, but remember these tips:
Hazards include slippery rocks and surfaces from mist and algae.
- Heed posted warning signs.
- Enjoy from a distance.
- Stay on established trails and enjoy the view from overlooks.
- Don’t jump off of waterfalls or dive into waterfall pools. Unseen objects, such as logs and boulders, may be under the water’s surface.
- Never swim or wade upstream near a waterfall, even if the water appears shallow and calm. The currents close to the falls could pull swimmers over the edge.
Rivers, Streams and Creeks
Changing seasons contribute to rapid changes in rivers and streams. In summer, rivers and streams often swell from runoff caused by snowmelt. That also could mean powerful currents that can easily sweep you off your feet.
- Avoid rock hopping. Stream polished rocks along the water's edge may be slippery when wet or dry.
- If you choose to cross a stream by going through it, study the area first. Avoid deep and/or swift water.
- When crossing on a natural bridge of rocks or logs, consider where you will land if you fall. Never cross above rapids or falls.
- If you are crossing a stream, unbuckle your pack's waist strap so you can shed it if you fall to prevent being pulled under by its weight. Consider putting your back in a waterproof back, which become a floating device to help your head stay above water.
- Do not tie yourself into safety ropes — they can drown you.
- If you fall into fast-moving water, do not try to stand up. Lay on your back with your feet pointing downstream and toes pointing up toward the surface. Always look downstream and be prepared to fend off rocks with your feet.
- Do not dive into the water. Jumping from cliffs or bridges is dangerous due to shallow water, submerged rocks, trees, or other hazards.
- Choose swimming areas carefully.
- Always swim with a buddy. Our beaches do not have lifeguards on duty. Stay within swimming markers and the shore where they are present.
- Always supervise children closely.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming or boating. Avoid drinking alcohol while supervising children around water.
- Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Because of the time it might take for emergency services to arrive, your CPR skills can make a difference in saving someone's life.
- Use life jackets that meet U.S. Coast Guard requirements when boating, regardless of distance to be traveled, size of boat, or swimming ability of boaters.
- Do not use air-filled or foam toys, such as water wings, noodles, or inner tubes, in place of life jackets.
- Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous to swimmers and boaters.