Specific PFD Requirements
West Virginia law requires the following with respect to personal flotation devices (life jackets):
- All vessels must carry at least one USCG–approved Type I, II, or III PFD for each person on board or being towed.
- In addition to the requirement above, all vessels 16 feet in length or longer (except canoes and kayaks) must carry at least one throwable Type IV PFD.
- 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 PFD while on deck of any motorboat that is underway.
- From November 15-May 15, additional requirements apply to the Shenandoah River within the boundaries of West Virginia. Each person on board a vessel, raft, or tube in that area must wear a Type I, II, III, or V PFD at all times while underway. Simply carrying PFDs does not satisfy this requirement; they must be worn.
- Each person riding on a PWC must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD.
- All persons being towed (except persons engaged in barefoot water-skiing) must wear a U.S. Coast Guard–approved Type I, II, or III PFD.
Read and follow the label restrictions on all PFDs.