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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 54 Pa.B. 2336 (April 27, 2024).

58 Pa. Code § 97.1. Personal flotation devices.

§ 97.1. Personal flotation devices.

 (a)  The following words and terms, when used in this section, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

 Immediately available—A PFD that is within arm’s reach of the operator or passenger while the boat is being operated. A PFD that is stored in a protective covering or sealed in its original packaging is not immediately available.

 PFD—Personal flotation device—A life preserver that is approved by the Commandant of the United States Coast Guard under 46 CFR Part 160 (relating to lifesaving equipment).

 Readily accessible—A PFD that is stowed where it can be easily reached or is out in the open ready for wear. A PFD that is stored in a protective covering or sealed in its original packaging is not readily accessible.

 Serviceable—When a PFD is fully functional to carry out the purpose for which it was designed and free of tears or defects in the material over the flotation material and the buckles, straps, zippers and other closures are operable.

 Throwable PFD—A PFD that is intended to be thrown to a person in the water. A PFD marked as throwable, Type IV, or Type V with Type IV performance is considered a throwable PFD. Unless specifically marked otherwise, a wearable PFD is not a throwable PFD.

 Wearable PFD—A PFD that is intended to be worn or otherwise attached to a person’s body. A PFD marked as wearable, Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V with Type (I, II or III) performance is considered a wearable PFD.

 (b)  A person may not use a boat unless at least one wearable PFD is on board for each person and the PFD is used in accordance with requirements of the approval label.

 (c)  A person may not use a boat 16 feet or more in length unless one throwable PFD is on board in addition to the total number of PFDs required in subsection (b). Canoes and kayaks 16 feet in length and over are exempted from the requirements for carriage of the additional throwable PFD.

 (d)  Required PFDs shall be in good, serviceable condition, legibly marked showing the Coast Guard approval number and displaying the PFD’s intended or approved use. They shall be of an appropriate size, child or adult, for the person for whom it is intended.

 (e)  When not worn, wearable PFDs shall be stowed so as to be readily accessible. Throwable PFDs shall be immediately available.

 (f)  This section does not apply to racing shells, rowing sculls and racing kayaks, such as manually propelled boats recognized by National racing associations for use in competitive racing, when the occupants row, scull or paddle with the exception of the coxswain, if one is provided, and which are not designed to carry and do not carry equipment not solely for competitive racing.

 (g)  Coast Guard approved PFDs shall be acceptable as long as they are in good, serviceable condition with the approval clearly legible.

 (h)  Children 12 years of age and younger shall wear an approved wearable PFD while underway on any boat 20 feet or less in length and all canoes, kayaks and paddleboards. The operator of the watercraft violates this subsection if he does not cause a child 12 years of age or younger to wear a PFD as required by this subsection.

 (i)  Beginning November 1 until midnight April 30 of the following year, a person shall wear a Coast Guard approved wearable PFD while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe, kayak or paddleboard.


   The provisions of this §  97.1 amended under section 10 of the Sunshine Act (65 P.S. §  280); section 506 of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P.S. §  186); and 30 Pa.C.S. §  5123.


   The provisions of this §  97.1 amended August 15, 1980, effective August 16, 1980, 10 Pa.B. 3391; amended June 3, 1994, effective June 4, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 2795; amended September 23, 1994, effective September 24, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 4771; amended April 12, 1996, effective April 13, 1996, 26 Pa.B. 1706; amended March 7, 1997, effective March 8, 1997, 27 Pa.B. 1156; amended September 25, 1998, effective September 26, 1998, 28 Pa.B. 4789; amended November 5, 1999, effective November 6, 1999, 29 Pa.B. 5717; amended October 2, 2009, effective October 3, 2009, 39 Pa.B. 5736; amended December 30, 2011, effective November 1, 2012, 41 Pa.B. 6972; amended November 20, 2015, effective January 1, 2016, 45 Pa.B. 6679; amended March 1, 2024, effective March 2, 2024, 54 Pa.B. 1056. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (412251) to (412252).

Cross References

   This section cited in 58 Pa. Code §  105.1 (relating to conditions requiring immediate corrective action); 58 Pa. Code §  109.2 (relating to paddleboards and sailboards); 58 Pa. Code §  109.3 (relating to personal watercraft); 58 Pa. Code §  109.4 (relating to waterskiing, aquaplaning, kiteskiing and similar activities); and 58 Pa. Code §  115.11 (relating to personal flotation devices).

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