Washington State Law on Kids & Life Jackets on the Water

Washington State Law on Kids & Life Jackets on the Water
Washington state law requires that all kids 12 years old and under wear a life jacket while on board a boat that is under 19 feet in length.

Personal Flotation Devices

Boaters in Washington are required to have a personal flotation device for each person on the boat. The devices must be in usable condition, the appropriate size and readily accessible.

Readily Accessible for Children

For children age 12 or under, a personal flotation device is considered readily accessible only if the child is wearing it. The life jackets must be worn at all times that the boat is underway and the child is on an open deck or open cockpit of the boat.

Life Jacket

The child's life jacket must meet or exceed the approval standards of the U.S. Coast Guard. The life jacket must be the appropriate size for the child.


A child is not required to wear a life jacket if he is below deck or in an enclosed cabin, is on a U.S. Coast Guard-inspected, passenger-carrying vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States, or is on a boat where no person would reasonably expect a danger of drowning.


Violation of this law is a misdemeanor.

Article Written By Carol Wiley

Carol Wiley started writing as a technical writer/editor in 1990, was a licensed massage therapist for almost 12 years and has been writing Web content since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering, a Master of Business Administration, a Certificate in Technical Writing and Editing and a Certificate in Massage Therapy.

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