All boats must have a USCG-approved wearable life jacket on board for each person.

Life jackets must be the appropriate size for the person intended. Check the life jacket label to ensure it’s the appropriate size for the person wearing it and make sure the jacket fits.

Life jackets must be appropriate for the activity for which they are worn. Check the USCG approval label for information.

In addition to wearable life jackets, boats 16 feet and over must have a Type IV throwable device (ring buoy, life ring or buoyant seat cushion) on board. Canoes and kayaks, regardless of length, are not required to carry a throwable device.

A throwable device may not be used as a substitute for a wearable device.

Children’s Life Jacket Law

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In Pennsylvania, passengers 12 years of age and under on Commonwealth waters are required to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket while underway on any boat that is under 20 feet in length and when riding in or operating, canoes and kayaks.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Life Jacket Law

Any person operating or riding on a PWC is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Towed Sports Life Jacket Law

Any person being towed by a boat is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Sailboard Life Jacket Law

Any person operating a sailboard (windsurfer) is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.

Additional Life Jacket Laws

  • When on Pittsburgh District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes, each person on board a boat that is under 16 feet in length, or in a canoe or kayak, must wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Any person on board a kayak, a canoe, or any boat under 16 feet in length, between November 1st until April 30th at midnight, is required to wear a Type I, II, III or V life jacket while the boat is underway or at anchor.