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General PFD Requirements

All vessels must have at least one wearable U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, or III PFD for each person on board or being towed.

Type V PFDs may be substituted for a Type I, II, or III if the Type V PFD is approved for the activity for which it is being used. This can be determined by reading the PFD label.

All vessels 16 feet or greater also must carry a Type IV throwable PFD.

All PFDs must be:

  • U.S. Coast Guard–approved
  • In good and serviceable condition
  • Of appropriate size for the wearer
  • Readily accessible

Child PFD Requirements

Fitting a pfd to a child

No person shall operate or permit to be operated any vessel under 18 feet long with a child less than 10 years of age on board unless the child is wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).

The PFD must be:

  • U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, III, or V
  • In good and serviceable condition
  • Of the appropriate size
  • Securely attached

PFD Requirements for Skiers and Others being Towed

No person shall ride or attempt to ride upon water skis, surfboards, inflatable devices, or similar devices being towed by a vessel without wearing an adequate and effective U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, or III PFD or a Type V PFD specifically designed for water-skiing, in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size.

No person shall engage in barefoot skiing without wearing an adequate and effective U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, or III PFD or a Type V PFD specifically designed for water-skiing, in good and serviceable condition, and of appropriate size, or a wetsuit specifically designed for barefoot skiing.

No boat operator shall tow any person who fails to comply with this law.

No operator of a vessel shall tow any person who fails to comply with this law.

PFD Requirements for Personal Watercraft

No person shall operate or permit the operation of a personal watercraft unless each person on the PWC is wearing a Type I, II, III, or V PFD.