- With many more people taking advantage of the summer weather and outdoors, State Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe/Pike), Monroe County Coroner Tom Yanac, Pocono Mountain Visitor’s Bureau (PMVB) President and CEO Chris Barrett, and Public Affairs Specialist Kathleen Sandt of the National Park Service at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DWGNRA) came together to enhance the importance of wearing a life jacket, especially on the Delaware River.
Yanac stated, “We have had many drownings in the Delaware River over the years and with five drownings this summer within a short time frame, my heart broke for these families. Rep. Brown and I felt we needed to do something more to help and we discussed in great length some efforts. We reached out to the PMVB and the DWGNRA which immediately began working on the issue with us.”
Additional public service announcements (PSAs) were created by the PMVB and the DWGNRA based on messaging priorities, specifically focusing on getting the message out to the right audiences and Pocono visitors before they visit. These visitors often come from New York City and the Philadelphia area, with 75% of the Delaware River drowning victims venturing from the greater New York City metropolitan area. The enhanced PSAs included life jacket messaging as well as litter reminders, which were sent to media partners in these high visitation regions and the local community.
“It’s wonderful to see everyone enjoying the outdoors and our beautiful Delaware River, especially as we navigate through this pandemic,” said Brown. “However, the river appears so peaceful and calm but there is an underlying strength and unpredictability of the river that has to be communicated strongly. We will never know what we prevented but we need to know that we did our best to help prevent these drownings. The PMVB and DWGNRA did an amazing job in building messaging quickly and working on this issue we all found important.”
“The PMVB affirms that the safety of our guests is a top priority. Our objective in devising the public service announcements was to provide our guests with a valuable water safety message before they visited the Pocono Mountains. It is always our hope that a family vacation is memorable, fun and above all…safe,” said Barrett.
Sandt added, “The National Park Service welcomes more than 3 million visitors to the national recreation area each year and our goal is for each one of them to have a safe and enjoyable experience when visiting. For those who choose to enjoy a fun day on or in the Delaware River, wearing a properly fitted and fastened U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is the No. 1 thing they can do to keep themselves and their families safe while on or in the water.”
Brown has also worked with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to include temporary messaging boards that are now placed on River Road and Route 209 geared toward swimmers and bringing attention to the river’s strong current while promoting life jackets. Brown is also working on efforts to consider life jacket rentals at the Delaware Water Gap Visitor’s Center, which is operated by the state.
“There may need to be a change in the state law to allow this to happen but having access to life jackets is important in preventing drownings. When you rent a canoe or boat equipment you are often given a life jacket. Otherwise, families are not packing life jackets when they visit the Poconos. Either scenario, they should remember to have a jacket, have fun and keep it on.”
Representative Rosemary M. Brown
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Abby Krueger