- applies to children of specific ages
- applies to certain sizes of boats
- applies to specific boating operations
Check with WA state boating safety officials for specific questions.
Child lifejacket approvals are based on the child's weight. Check the "User Weight" on the label, or the approval statement that will read something like "Approved for use on recreational boats and uninspected commercial vessels not carrying passengers for hire, by persons weighing __ lbs". They can be marked "less than 30", "30 to 50", "less than 50", or "50 to 90".
Boat operators are subject to fines if passengers younger than 13 do not wear life jackets. The penalties, as listed in the U.S. boating regulations , are comparable to those for failure to have life jackets on board, which can be as much as $1,000 per violation.
- Coast Guard approved,
- in good and serviceable condition, and
- the appropriate size for the intended user.
In Washington State "all vessels (including canoes and kayaks) must have at least one U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)-approved Type I, II, or III life jacket for each person on board. * One Type IV (throw-able) USCG-approved PFD must be on board vessels 16 feet or longer, in addition to the requirement above. Canoes and kayaks are exempt from this requirement. * 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, and anyone being towed behind a vessel must wear a Type I, II, or III USCG-approved life jacket. Inflatable life jackets are not recommended for these activities. * A Type V life jacket may be substituted for any other type if it is specifically approved by the USCG for the activity at hand and is being worn. * All life jackets (PFDs) must be: - U.S. Coast Guard-approved, which means clearly marked with the USCG approval number. - In good and serviceable condition. - Readily accessible, which means you are able to put the life jacket on quickly in an emergency. - Of the proper size for the intended wearer; sizing for life jackets is based on body weight and chest size."