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Course Outline

Person fitting a PFD on a child

Massachusetts law requires the following with respect to PFDs.

  • All vessels must have at least one USCG–approved wearable PFD or Type I, II, III, or V PFD for each person on board.
  • In addition to the requirement for PFDs, one USCG–approved throwable Type IV device must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer.
  • Children under 12 years of age must wear a USCG–approved wearable PFD or Type I, II, III, or V PFD whenever above deck on any vessel that is underway.
  • All persons on board a PWC must wear a USCG–approved wearable PFD or Type I, II, III, or V PFD at all times.
  • All persons water-skiing or being towed in any manner must wear a USCG–approved wearable PFD or Type I, II, or III PFD at all times.
  • All persons on board a canoe or kayak from September 15 to May 15 must wear a USCG–approved wearable PFD or Type I, II, or III PFD at all times.
  • When using a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) beyond the limits of swimming, bathing, or surfing areas, users are required by law to have a wearable PFD or Type I, II, or III PFD aboard.
  • All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition, legibly marked with the USCG approval number, and readily accessible. Wearable PFDs must be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
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