Paddleboarders take note: Life jackets are not optional on board

By law, paddleboarders must have a life jacket on board for every passenger or face risking a fine.

A boat is a vessel and by definition a paddleboard is a vessel and by law, both vessels must have on board a life jacket for every passenger.

Which means if you’re doing a little sans lifejacket stand-up paddleboarding on your favorite lake or stream, you run the risk of a fine, says officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

“A paddleboard is a vessel, so you must have a life jacket on-board when you are in the water,” said Chelsea Murray, park ranger at Ridgway State Park.

“Our new loaner program is ideal for paddleboarders.”

It’s recommended that a life jacket be worn while on the water.

It’s the law that all children 12 and under must wear a life jacket (also known as a personal flotation device, or PFD) while on a paddleboard or on any vessel when on the water.

Murray was talking about the life-jacket loaner program just initiated at Ridgway through the Sea Tow Foundation, a boating safety and education organization.

Thanks to grant funding from the federal Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Sea Tow Foundation website has supplied Ridgway with free, loaner life jackets in sizes to fit children, adolescents and adults.

The trust fund is financed through excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, import duties, and interest.

The free life jackets are part of an effort to build interest and educate boaters about on-water safety, Murray said.

“Safety is our top priority at the park and this is a great program that will help to increase safety for people in boats and on paddleboards,” Murray said.

The life jackets available for day use are stored in bright yellow bins located at Dallas Creek and the main boat ramp.

Borrowers are asked to fill out the check-out form on the inside of the bins.

Life jackets must be returned at the end of the day.

The number of life jackets on-board must match the number of boat passengers.

According to the Parks and Wildlife website, children 12 and under are required to wear a life jacket whenever their vessel is on the water or the child is in an enclosed cabin or below deck.

Violations of life-jacket regulations will result in a fine of $52.50.

The non-profit Sea Tow Foundation, based in New York, promotes safe boating practices and education initiatives aimed at reducing recreational boating accidents.

Sea Tow’s loaner program operates at more than 200 locations throughout the United States.


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