The Handbook of Michigan Boating Laws and Responsibilites
The Official Boating Handbook of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Table of Contents
Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)
When preparing to go out on a vessel, the operator must check that the legally required equipment is on board.
All vessels must be equipped with a personal flotation device for each person on board or being towed.
- The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) requires that all vessels have at least one Type I, II, or III personal flotation device that is USCG–approved, wearable, and of the proper size for each person on board or being towed. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
- Michigan's PFD law permits a vessel that is less than 16 feet long, or is a canoe or kayak, to choose to have either a wearable PFD (Type I, II, or III) or a throwable PFD (Type IV) for each person on board.
In addition to the above requirements, one USCG–approved Type IV PFD must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer and be readily accessible.
Michigan law requires all children under 6 years of age to wear a USCG–approved Type I or II PFD when riding on the open deck of any vessel while underway.
Each person riding on a PWC or being towed behind a PWC or other vessel must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device. Inflatable PFDs are not allowed on PWCs or while being towed behind PWCs or other vessels.
All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and must be readily accessible.