Life Jacket Age Rules

Life Jacket Age Rules
Boating, fishing, swimming and other water sports are fun for the entire family. When planning your next outing on the water, be sure to review and obey the life jacket age rules for your state.


The U.S. Coast Guard enacts and enforces life jacket regulations. Some individual states have their own regulations.


The U.S. Coast Guard regulation governing life jacket age rules states that any child younger than 13 years of age must wear a life jacket that is Coast Guard approved when on a recreational vessel in operation. The rule, which went into effect in 2002, does not apply when children are in an enclosed cabin or below decks.


The Coast Guard regulation applies only to those states that do not have their own life jacket age rules. For states that do have regulations, the Coast Guard recognizes those rules.


The Coast Guard enacted life jacket age rules to address the increasing number of childhood drownings while boating.


Boat operators are subject to fines if passengers younger than 13 do not wear life jackets. The penalties, as listed in the U.S. boating regulations on, are comparable to those for failure to have life jackets on board, which can be as much as $1,000 per violation.

Article Written By Linda Hinkle

Linda Hinkle has been a writer since 2004. She spent 29 years teaching mathematics in public high schools and now maintains a private tutoring practice. In addition to writing about education and parenting issues, she writes mathematics assessment and test prep items. Hinkle is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas, where she earned a bachelor's degree in education.

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