143035_DBW Course_r3

Chapter 1 X Personal Safety

Are you operating a boat less than 16 feet long, or a canoe or a kayak of any length? Then you must follow these rules: ƒ A Coast Guard-approved life jacket in serviceable condition and of a type and size appropriate for the conditions and the activity being engaged in must be carried for each person on board. If stored, these life jackets must be readily available (easy to get to), and you must show passengers where the life jackets and other safety equipment are stored. ƒ Under California state law, it is an infraction, punishable by a fine of up to $250, to operate a recreational vessel of any length unless every child under 13 years of age on board is wearing a Coast Guard-approved life jacket in serviceable condition and of a type and size appropriate for the conditions and the activity while the boat is underway . The law does not apply to: (1) the operator of a sailboat on which every child under age 13 is restrained by a harness tethered to the sailboat; (2) the operator of a vessel on which every child under age 13 is in an enclosed cabin; or on a vessel engaged in an emergency rescue situation. ƒ Everyone on a personal watercraft and anyone being towed behind a vessel must wear a Coast Guard-approved appropriate type of life jacket for the activity as stated on the label. (For exceptions, see Water Skiing .) ƒ Anyone using an underwater maneuvering device is exempt from wearing a life jacket. An underwater maneuvering device is any towed or self-powered device designed for underwater use that a person can pilot through diving, turning and surfacing moves. For a boat 16 feet or longer, you must also follow these rules: ƒ The same requirements as above and one immediately accessible (easy-to-reach) Coast Guard-approved throwable device—such as a ring, cushion or horseshoe buoy for each boat. To make sure that your life jackets remain in good serviceable condition: f Do not alter the life jackets. An altered life jacket no longer meets legal requirements and may not save your life. f Do not place heavy objects on life jackets during storage. f Do not use life jackets as kneeling pads, boat fenders, or seat cushions because they lose buoyancy when they’re crushed. f Let life jackets air-dry thoroughly before putting them away. f Always store your life jackets in a well-ventilated place, out of direct sunlight. f Never dry your life jackets by a direct heat source, such as a dryer, heater, or radiator. f Before wearing, check life jackets for signs of wear and age. Look for rips or tears, mildew, loose or missing straps, frayed webbing, broken zippers or buckles, and hardened stuffing. A life jacket with any of these problems must be destroyed. f According to the U.S. Coast Guard a life jacket is no longer in serviceable condition if the straps and/or zippers or fasteners do not work SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER:


All passengers are encouraged to wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted, life jacket when on a moving boat. For added safety, attach a whistle to each life jacket.


Boat operators first should make sure everyone aboard wears a life jacket in stormy weather/rough water conditions.

WEBSITES To learn more about life jackets, visit www.BoatCalifornia.com


California Course for Safe Boating

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