Specific PFD Requirements
Washington law requires the following with respect to personal flotation devices (life jackets).
- All vessels (including non-motorized watercraft) must carry at least one USCG–approved Type I, II, or III life jacket for each person on board. Non-motorized watercraft includes vessels such as canoes, inflatable rafts, kayaks, and sailboats.
- In addition to the above requirement, vessels 16 feet in length or longer must have one USCG–approved throwable Type IV PFD on board and immediately accessible. Canoes and kayaks are exempt from this requirement.
- All PFDs must be in good and serviceable condition and readily accessible. The PFDs must be of the proper size for the intended wearer. Sizing for PFDs is based on body weight and chest size.
- Children 12 years old and younger must wear a USCG–approved life jacket at all times when underway in a vessel less than 19 feet in length, unless in a fully enclosed area.
- Each person on board a personal watercraft must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, or III life jacket.
- Each person being towed behind a vessel must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, or III life jacket.
- A wearable Type V PFD may be substituted for other required PFDs if the wearable Type V PFD is approved for the activity for which the PFD is being used and is being worn.
- Some local governments have additional requirements for wearing PFDs. Before you go boating, be sure to check for local regulations at www.mrsc.org/codes.aspx.