Are Life Jackets Always Necessary in New York?

Are Life Jackets Always Necessary in New York?

70% of all boating accidents are drownings, and 85% of drownings happen to people who are not wearing lifejackets, according to the Personal Floatation Device Manufacturers Association. Most drowning victims had the option to wear a personal floatation device and chose not to wear it. Make sure you, your family, and friends stay safe out on the waters by always having access to and wearing a floatation device. If you choose not to wear a life jacket due to its bulkiness or unstylish design, there are many new options available that are sleeker and more stylish than life jackets of old. Choose a life jacket that you will enjoy wearing, and remember that the risk of not wearing a life jacket is not worth it.

New York Law Requires the Possession of at Least One Personal Floatation Device

According to New York law, every pleasure vessel must carry at least on United States Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III personal floatation device for each person on board. The requirements for these life jackets are as follows:

  • They must be serviceable, meaning they must be free from tears, punctures, rot, and waterlogging. In addition, all straps must be functional;
  • They must be readily accessible, meaning they can be reached quickly in an emergency, kept out of plastic bags, and never locked away; and
  • Each life jacket must be the appropriate size for each user. To ensure a proper fit for each passenger, check the U.S. Coast Guard’s approval label for the intended user’s size.

New York Law Conditions for Life Jackets to be Worn at All Times

Listed below are the conditions in which a life jacket must be worn at all times:

  • Children under the age of 12, unless fully enclosed in a cabin;
  • Anyone who operates or is riding on a personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski or a Wave Runner;
  • Anyone being towed behind another vessel such as a waterskier, wakeboarder, or tuber; and
  • Anyone in a pleasure vessel less than 21 feet in length, including canoes, rowboats, and kayaks between the first of November and the first of May.

Properly Securing Your Life Jacket

It may seem like a no-brainer, but many people end up wearing lifejackets improperly. If your lifejacket is not fitted and secured properly, it may come off when you need it the most. Our waters are cold (below 70) most of the year in New York, which only speeds up fatigue while treading water. The body cools 25 times faster in water than in air, and the faster you cool, the less energy you will have to keep yourself floating and conscious. Your life jacket could save you if secured properly, or fail to if worn improperly. Ensure you follow each life jacket’s instructions for fitting and make sure all necessary straps are always buckled and tightened appropriately.

If you were involved in a boat accident, jet ski collision, or swimming accident, contact an experienced boating accident attorney at once.

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