Life jackets are called life jackets for a reason - they can be the difference between a minor boating accident injury and a boating accident fatality. Do you know the Washington State life jacket boating laws? Learn more to keep your boating adventures safe and injury-free this summer in Washington.

Washington Boating Safety: Importance of Life Vests

As the weather warms, many Washington State residents are thinking about weekends spent in oceans, lakes, and rivers – such as Puget Sound, the Columbia River, and Hood River. However, while many picture relaxing time on board a boat, canoe, kayak, or other vessel, some do not consider the proper safety measures or Washington laws regarding life jackets. Also known as personal floatation devices (PFDs), life jackets can save your life in the case of a boat capsize or other boat accident. Contrary to popular believe, even strong swimmers may need a life jacket in emergency situations. When confronted with rough waters at sea, swift currents, or head injuries that could knock a boater unconscious, a PFD could be the difference between minor injuries and a boating accident fatality.

Here is a short summary of Washington State life jacket boating laws:

•    All children under 12 years of age traveling in a boat that is 19 feet long or shorter must wear a life jacket at all times.
•    All boats must have one life jacket on board for every person on board.
•    All boats more than 16 feet long must have a throwable personal flotation device – such as a lifesaver.
•    The life jackets on board boats must be approved by the United States Coast Guard.
•    The life jackets on board must correctly fit the boaters’ size requirements.
•    The life jackets on board must be in working order.
•    The life jackets on board must be easily accessible to all boats in case of a boating accident or other emergency.