North Carolina requires anyone younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest when on a recreational vessel that is underway. Anyone riding a personal watercraft or being towed by one must also wear an appropriate life vest.
Both state and federal regulations require that a Type I, II or III personal flotation device in good condition and of appropriate size be accessible for each person onboard a recreational vessel, including canoes, kayaks, rowboats and other non-motorized craft. (Sailboards, racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes and racing kayaks are exempt from this requirement.)
“Accidents can happen quickly and without warning,” said Major Chris Huebner of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the state's boating safety coordinator. “In those situations, there often isn’t time to grab a life vest and put it on properly before you are in the water. The best preparation is to wear it whenever you are underway. A life vest can be a life saver when it’s worn. It also gives you the ability to assist others who may be in danger.”
When choosing a life vest for a child, always check for:
For more information on life vest requirements or how to enroll in a free boating education course, click here or call (919) 707-0031.