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Course Outline

California law requires the following with respect to life jackets.

  • All vessels must have at least one USCG–approved wearable Type I, II, III, or V life jacket for each person on board.
  • In addition to the above requirements, one USCG–approved throwable Type IV device must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer (except canoes and kayaks).
  • California law requires children under the age of 13 to wear a USCG–approved life jacket while underway in a recreational vehicle of any length (unless tethered to a sailboat or in an enclosed cabin).
  • Inflatable life jackets are acceptable for persons age 16 and older if they are wearable, activated by both pull and oral inflation features, and USCG–approved.
  • Every person on board a PWC or being towed behind a vessel must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V life jacket.
  • Persons using underwater maneuvering devices (diveboards) are exempt from wearing a life jacket.
  • All life jackets must be in good and serviceable condition and must be readily accessible. The life jackets must be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for life jackets is based on body weight and chest size.
Person fitting a PFD on a child
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