Life Jacket Laws
Who must wear a life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) in Michigan?
- Children less than 6 years of age must wear a Type I or Type II PFD when riding in the open deck area of a boat in Michigan
- Each person 12 years of age or older operating, riding on or being towed behind a personal watercraft (jet ski) must wear a Type I, Type II, or Type III PFD (that is not an inflatable device) in Michigan
- Each person less than 12 years of age riding or being towed behind a personal watercraft (jet ski) must wear a Type I or Type II PFD in Michigan
What type of PFD do I need to carry on my boat in Michigan?
- Boats less than 16 feet (including canoes and kayaks) must be equipped with one Type I, II, III, or IV PFD for each person on board.
- The U.S. Guard requires all vessels less than 16 feet, used on the Great Lakes or connecting waterways, to carry one approved Type I, II, or III device for each person on board.
- Vessels 16 feet and longer must carry one type IV, in addition to the Type I, II, or III for each person on board. (Canoes and kayaks over 16 feet are exempt from the Type IV requirement.)
What are the differences between the types of PFD’s?
- TYPE I: (Offshore Life Jacket) (22 lbs. Buoyancy) Best for open, rough, or remote water where rescue may be slow in coming.
- TYPE II: (Near-Shore Buoyant Vest) (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy) Good for calm, inland water or where there is good chance of fast rescue.
- TYPE III: (Flotation Aid) (15.5 lbs. Buoyancy) Good for calm, inland water or where there is a good chance of fast rescue.
- TYPE IV: (Throwable Device) For calm, inland water with heavy boat traffic, where help is always nearby.
By law, all life jackets (PFD’s) must be ready at hand and not enclosed in plastic bags or other containers.