Ohio's Life Jacket Laws

Other than commercial vessels, no person shall operate or permit to be operated any watercraft that is 16 feet or greater in length without carrying one, Type I, II or III wearable PFD for each person on board, plus one, Type IV (throwable) PFD.

Watercraft that are less than 16 feet in length and canoes or kayaks of any length, are required to carry one, Type I, II or III wearable PFD for each person on the boat.

A Type V PFD may be carried in place of a Type I, II, or III wearable PFD, provided the approval label indicates that the device is approved for the activity or that it can be a substitute for the other types of PFDs. The Type V PFD must also be used in accordance with the requirements on the approval label and the requirements in its owner’s manual.

Children’s Life Jacket Law

Ohio's Life Jacket Laws

In Ohio, no person shall operate, or permit to be operated , any vessel under 18 feet long with a child less than 10 years of age on board, unless the child is wearing a PFD.

Personal Watercraft (PWC) Lifejacket Law

Any person operating or riding on a PWC is required to WEAR a Coast Guard-approved, Type I, II, III or V, life jacket.  The life jacket must be of appropriate size, in good condition and be securely attached.

Additionally, a person operating a PWC that is equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch is required to attach the lanyard to the person, to the person’s clothing, or to the person’s life jacket as appropriate for the specific watercraft.

Towed Sports Life Jacket Law

Any person being towed behind a boat is required to wear a Coast Guard-approved, Type I, II, III or V life jacket. The life jacket must be of appropriate size, in good condition and be securely attached. Understand that it is illegal to engage in barefoot skiing unless the skier is wearing a Coast Guard-approved, Type I, II, III or V, life jacket, or a wetsuit that is designed specifically for barefoot skiing.

Requirements for Commercial Vessels

No person shall operate, or permit to be operated, any commercial vessels:

  • Less than 40 feet in length not carrying persons for hire without one Type I, II, or III PFD per person,
  • 40 Feet in length or longer not carrying persons for hire without one Type I, PFD per person,
  • 26 feet in length or longer without at least one Type IV ring life buoy in addition to other applicable PFD requirements.