Spring brings river enthusiasts to the Upper Delaware, and another warning from the National Park Service not to become a drowning statistic.


 Spring brings river enthusiasts to the Upper Delaware, and another warning from the National Park Service not to become a drowning statistic.
At a recent meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC), Vidal Martinez, Superintendent, Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River, said he is seeking to coordinate with the Park Service unit down river- the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area- to be sure they share a unified safety message. Martinez noted that there were three people who drowned in the Upper Delaware last year. In each case they were not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD), or as  it is commonly called, a life jacket.
“People don’t understand about being trapped by currents; they take you down quickly,” he said of the danger of the moving river.
A grant has been sought to fund training for National Canoe Safety Patrol personnel to instruct river visitors in being safe. “We’re looking to be proactive,” Martinez stated. A meeting was planned by the Park Service with the canoe livery operators to impress upon them the importance of urging river users to wear a life jacket. Law requires that anyone age 12 and under must wear a PFD, but the Park Service stresses that they should be worn by anyone, of any age.
Since 1980, 56 people have drowned in the Upper Delaware. Only four were women, and most of the victims were under 30 years of age. Much of these tragedies occur because of horseplay, Martinez noted.
Tips to stay safe on the river:
    * Wear your life jacket even when swimming. Most drownings occur when boaters stop and swim. Do not swim alone.
    * Do not overestimate your swimming ability. Do not swim or wade across the river. The Delaware River has strong currents and sharp drop-offs. Swimming becomes more difficult with increased current and water depth.
    * Cold water and/or weather can cause hypothermia.
    * Wear shoes to protect against glass and rocks.
    * River rocks may be slippery.
    * Guard against sunburn. Wear a hat and light clothing. Use a sunscreen with a high rating.
    * If you capsize, don’t panic. Save people first! Retrieve boats and equipment only if it can be done safely.
    * Stay with your group.
    * Avoid obstacles well in advance. Stop and scout rapids to pick the best channel.
    * Do not tie your life jacket to your boat.
    * Do not stand in your boat. Kneel while going through rapids.
    * Bring an adequate water supply. Do not drink river or stream water.
    * Alcohol and boating are a killer combination.
For information on river conditions, call the U.S. Park Service's River Information Hotline at 845-252-7100.
Information provided by the National Park Service. Visit online at http://www.nps.gov/upde.
The UDC meets on the first Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at their offices at 211 Bridge St., Narrowsburg. See www.upperdelawarecouncil.org or call (845)252-3022 for more information.