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Course Outline

Pennsylvania law requires the following with respect to PFDs.

  • All vessels must carry one USCG–approved wearable PFD for each person on board.
  • All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition, be marked legibly with the USCG approval number, and be readily accessible. PFDs must be approved for the activity for which they are worn (read the label). The PFDs must be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
  • In addition to the above requirements, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one USCG–approved throwable device on board and immediately available (within arm’s reach). Kayaks and canoes are not required to carry a throwable device; however, they are a good idea for all vessels.
  • Children 12 years old and younger must wear a USCG–approved PFD at all times while underway on any vessel 20 feet or less in length and on all kayaks and canoes.
  • Each person on board a PWC or sailboard, and anyone being towed behind a vessel (including wake surfers), must wear a USCG–approved PFD. Inflatable PFDs are not approved for these activities.
  • When on Pittsburgh District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes, each person on board a vessel under 16 feet in length, or in a canoe or kayak, must wear a USCG–approved PFD.
  • From November 1 until midnight April 30, each person must wear a USCG–approved PFD on board a vessel under 16 feet in length, and on all kayaks and canoes, while underway or anchored.
  • Paddleboards must carry a wearable PFD on board for each person, except when in a designated swimming, surfing, or bathing area.
Fitting a pfd to a child
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