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All recreational boats must be equipped with U.S. Coast Guard—approved life jackets, called personal flotation devices or PFDs. The quantity and type depend on the length of your boat and the number of people on board and/or being towed. Each PFD must be USCG—approved, be in good condition, be of the proper size for the intended wearer, and very importantly, be readily available!

Boat operators should ask everyone on their boat to wear a PFD whenever on the water. Emergencies can occur instantly and without warning, allowing no time to put on a PFD.

Everyone should wear a life jacket, especially anyone who is:

  • Boating alone
  • Boating at night
  • On rough water or in a swift current
  • Out in bad weather
  • Boating in cold water
  • Boating in heavy traffic
  • In remote areas or far from shore
  • Using a small boat
  • Hunting or fishing
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Not a strong swimmer
  • Prone to sudden or at risk of sudden serious health conditions