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06/11/2021

DEEP EnCon Police Partner with Foundation to Promote Wearing of Life Jackets

Under Program, EnCon Police May Provide New Donated Life Jackets to Individuals on Candlewood Lake as Needed

 

(HARTFORD)—Thanks to a donation from the Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)’s Environmental Conservation Police will be in a position to provide new donated life jackets to individuals on Candlewood Lake who are without one.

More than 90% of drowning related boating fatalities may have been avoided by wearing a life jacket. Already this season, three people have died on Connecticut waterbodies while operating paddlecrafts, and in all three incidents, a life jacket was not worn. Life jackets are required to be worn by occupants of manually powered vessels (or paddlecrafts, i.e. canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, row boats) from Oct. 1-May 31, and are strongly encouraged at to be worn at all times of the year.

Additionally, there must be a wearable life jacket on board for each person aboard every vessel; life jackets must be worn by children under 13 years old on any vessel that is underway unless the child is below deck or in an enclosed cabin; a life jacket must be worn by anyone operating or riding on a personal watercraft (or PWC, i.e. a jet ski); and a life jacket must be worn by anyone being pulled behind a vessel (i.e. tubing or waterskiing).

New, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)-approved life jackets of various sizes have been donated to DEEP by the Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation, created by Pam and Joe Fedorko to honor their 16-year old daughter Emily, who tragically lost her life in 2014, during a water tubing accident on Long Island Sound. The foundation provides funding to advance education, advocacy and awareness of boating and water sports safety for adults and children, throughout Connecticut and nationwide.

“From the start of the foundation, a main area of focus has been to make sure boaters have the right life jacket protection.  It’s not a protective device if it’s not worn,” said Joe Fedorko. “The orange life vests are a requirement and serve a great importance in an emergency, however, with today’s technology we have much better options. By donating life jackets to the CT Environmental Conservation Police, we’ll ensure that dozens of people will receive the protective gear they need to safely and responsibly enjoy the water and boating season ahead!”

“Thank you to the Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation, which graciously provided us with multiple life jackets in a variety of sizes for the general public for this season on Candlewood Lake,” said DEEP Environmental Conservation Police Officer Patrick Kiely. “The goal of this partnership is to educate the boating community on the importance of not only having a life jacket while underway but to have the appropriate life jacket depending on the type of water activity.” 

According to the 2018 Recreational Boating Statistics report published by the USCG, among the 425 drowning deaths in 2018 where life jacket use or nonuse was known, 84% (356) of the individuals were reported as not wearing a life jacket.

In 2019, canoes and kayaks counted for 20% of all boating fatalities, second only to open motorboats.  More than 85% of canoe/kayak fatalities were drownings.

The DEEP Boating Division is hosting a statewide Life Jacket Drive this Sunday, June 13. We will be collecting new or gently used life jackets at the following locations: Squantz Cove State Boat Launch, on Old Bogus Road, New Fairfield;  DEEP Marine Headquarters, 333 Ferry Road, Old Lyme; and Gardner Lake State Boat Launch, 147 Old Colchester Road, Salem. All life jackets collected will be washed and used for future life jacket loaner programs, outreach events, and giveaways. Please donate to support a safer boating community!

For more information on the Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation, visit www.emsway.org or follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/emily_fedorko_foundation & Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ECFFoundation.  If you have a new ECFF life vest please wear it in honor of Emily and tag the foundation in your photos when using them!

For more information on boating laws, and how to boat safely, please consult the 2021 Connecticut Boater’s Guide.

 

Picture of Officer Kiely holding life jackets in a boat

DEEP Environmental Conservation Officer Patrick Kiely holds some of the life jackets donated by the Emily Catherine Fedorko Foundation. DEEP EnCon Officers will be in a position to provide the donated life jackets to individuals on Candlewood Lake this season who are without one.

 

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