Safe Boating Course

CHAPTER 2: Boating Equipment


Child lifejacket laws vary from state to state, however, federal law requires that all children under the age of 13 wear a lifejacket on a moving boat.

The only exceptions to this rule are if the child is below deck, in an enclosed cabin, or if the boat is not underway.

Remember that there are state-specific regulations that remain applicable. So check the regulations for your area before going boating with a child on board. We'll review state specific information in Chapter 9.

Here are some tips for selecting a child’s PFD:

  • First, take into account the child’s swimming ability. Children who are not swimmers should wear a Type 2 child vest, which has greater buoyancy than a Type 3 PFD
  • Consider the child’s age and experience level around the water.
  • Teach the child how to relax and float in the water wearing a PFD.
  • Choose the right type of PFD for the activity.
  • And, always check to make sure that the size is appropriate for the child’s weight.

Finally, remember that a child’s PFD or lifejacket is never a substitute for proper adult supervision.