Life Jackets are Required on all New York Watercraft

If everyone wore a lifejacket, or at least had quick access to a functioning life jacket, while operating or riding watercraft, hundreds of lives would be saved. That is because 70% of boating accidents happen to be drownings, and of those drowning victims, 85% of those people were not wearing life jackets, according to the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association. A properly fitting life jacket can keep a person a float for hours with minimal energy expenditure from the person in the water, as opposed to being without a life jacket and supporting themselves.


Most Drownings Occur to People Who Had Access to a Floatation Device Before the Accident


Unfortunately, most drowning cases do happen to people who have access to floatation devices but chose not to wear them. With modern life jacket designs, the days of ugly, bulky, and uncomfortable floatation devices are gone. There are now sleeker, more modern designs that are worth the price if the user is more likely to wear them. It can be important to pick out a life jacket that you or others will enjoy wearing; it could end up being one of the most important purchases of your life.


One Personal Floatation Device Per Occupant in New York


Every vessel must carry at least one personal floatation device per occupant, according to New York law. Furthermore each personal floatation device must be a United States Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III personal floatation device, the standards of which are listed below:


  • Each floatation device must be “serviceable,” which means it has to be in good shape (no tears, punctures, waterlogging, and all the straps must be in good shape and functional)
  • Each floatation device needs to be able to be accessed quickly in case of an emergency. They cannot be kept inside plastics bags or locked away and
  • Each floatation device needs to be the correct size for each user. To ensure the correct fit, check each U.S. Coast Guard approval label.


Life Jackets to be Worn at All Times for Certain Vessels and Time Periods


At certain times of the year, users, and for certain vessels, life jackets must be worn at all times. The requirements for all time life jacket use are listed below:


  • Children who are 12 years old or less unless they are completely enclosed inside a cabin
  • Operates or occupants of personal watercraft (Jet Skis or Wave Runners)
  • People who are being towed behind another watercraft such as a tuber, waterskier, or wakeboarder and
  • Between the first of November and the first of May, those in vessels shorter than 21 feet such as canoes, kayaks, and rowboats.


Proper Fit and Use of Life Jackets is Necessary for them to Function


For a life jacket to do its job properly, it must fit well and also be worn correctly. All necessary straps must be buckled and tightened accordingly. New York waters are cold to cool year-round, which increases the rate of fatigue for a person in the water. The body cools 25 times faster in water than in air, which increases the rate of exhaustion. Properly fitted and strapped lifejackets can keep a drowning victim afloat much longer than someone who is not wearing a life jacket or a person who is wearing one improperly. If you have been involved in a watercraft accident or have a loved one that has drowned from a boating or swimming accident, you may be owed compensation for another’s negligence. Contact an experienced New York boating and swimming accident attorney at the law offices of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC today at 212-397-1000.