PADDLERsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 02 - Boating Equipment



Always wear your life jacket—it’s THE most important thing you can do for paddle safety. Recent Coast Guard statistics tell us that at least 85% of the victims of fatal boating-related accidents were not wearing their life jackets at the time of their emergency. Sadly, these deaths may have been prevented if life jackets had been worn when they were needed most.

All paddle craft are required to be equipped with one, Coast Guard-approved, Type I, II, III or V life jacket, for each passenger on board a paddle craft. If your life jacket is a Type V (as most paddle sport-specific vests are), it must be WORN to be considered Coast Guard-approved. As the paddle craft operator, you are responsible for providing life jackets for any passengers you bring on board your paddle craft.

Always check the label of your life jacket to determine that it is appropriate for your body size and is suitable for your paddling activity.

Need more motivation to wear your life jacket? Check out these recent paddle statistics from the United States Coast Guard (USCG):

  • 85% of paddlers who drowned while canoeing were not wearing a life jacket.
  • 48% of paddlers who drowned while kayaking were not wearing a life jacket.
  • 70% of canoe, kayak or rafting-related fatalities could have been prevented had the victims been wearing a life jacket.

Convinced? Always wear your life jacket.  

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