Life Jackets & Boating Safety

1. Life Jackets Save Lives! 

Did you know? Nationally, 80% of people who drowned in boating accidents would have survived had they been wearing a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Wear it Utah!

Utah Law requires all boats have at least one wearable U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board. 

  • Life jackets must be in good and serviceable condition, and readily accessible.
  • All life jackets fitted and sized properly according to age, weight, activity, and use restrictions listed on the U.S. Coast Guard approval label.
  • Passengers, 12-years-old and younger must wear a properly sized coast guard approved life jacket whenever a boat is in operation.

If you plan to wear an inflatable life jacket, read the approval label for age, use restrictions and proper care. Inflatable life jackets may not be used by person under the age of 16; operating or riding on a PWC; being towed behind a vessel; or while boating on rivers.

Life Jacket Requirements You Need To Know

  • Boat Size and Life Jacket Requirements. Boats 16 – 39 feet in length must carry at least one throwable PFD: vessels 40 feet and greater must carry at least two throwable PFDs.
  • Water Skis & PWC.  Each person being towed on water skis or other devices – or operating or riding on a PWC – must wear a properly sized and approved life jacket.
  • On Rivers. Every person on any vessel including inner tubes must wear a properly sized and approved life jacket.


cap-1266204_960_7202. Education 

Learn the Ropes. Take a Course.

Education for all ages is highly recommended. Know before you go.
**Utah requires a mandatory youth certification course for Personal Watercraft (PWC).**

Learn More About Our Education Courses


drunk-driving-40574_960_7203. Don’t Drink & Drive

Boating under the influence (BUI) is the same as driving under the influence. The same penalties apply, including suspension of driver’s license, possible jail time, and fines.

A person operating a motorboat on Utah’s waters ins considered to have given consent to take any field sobriety test requested by an officer who feels the person in operation is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. If arrested, your boat, trailer, and tow vehicle may be impounded.

Alcohol is allowed on all boats; however, it is against the law for a person under the influence to operate a motorboat.

Please Drink Responsibly! 

speedometer-153399_960_7204. Speed Limits 

Yes, there are speed limits on the water. 

A wakeless or idle speed is required when operating in a designated slow-wakeless speed area.

This also applies whenever you are withing 150 feet of another boat, a person in the water, a water skier, shore angler, launch ramp, dock, or other designated swimming areas.


boat-1505685_960_7205. Passenger Seating

No one may operated a motorboat faster than a wakeless speed with passengers sitting on the bow decking, gunwales, seatbacks, or motor cover.

A person may ride on the bow decking if they do not block the view of the operator and they are straddling one of the uprights on the bow railing.


ProcessedImage_DCBoaters7 (1 of 1)6. Towing People Behind the Boat

When towing water skies, wakeboards, or other devices, boat operators must maintain a safe course to ensure safety. Remember, in addition to the boat operator, you must also have an observer – at least 8-years-old – on board to watch and communicate with the skier.

The observer must also display a 12″ x 12″ orange flag when the tow is finished, or preparing to begin. Always watch your skier!

Towing is allowed only between sunrise and sunset, so no night towing. All persons being towed must wear a properly sized life jacket. It is prohibited to tow a person in a non-standing position withing 20 feet of the back of the boat.

Remember, the person being towed also counts towards your maximum person capacity, so don’t go over.


7. Utah Watercraft Restrictions

Anglers should check with local, state, and federal agencies regarding any and all watercraft restrictions.

The official watercraft restriction list and more information can be found in the link below:

Learn About All Watercraft Restrictions


weather-1574452_960_7208. Weather Watch

Weather can change rapidly in Utah. 

Always be sure to check the weather forecast before heading out.

Be sure to pay attention to changing conditions while on the water. Remember, lighting and high winds can be bad news.


9. Carbon Monoxide & Propeller Injury 

Do not allow anyone to spend time on the back of the boat while the engine is running! 

COCarbon Monoxide is known as the silent killer. This gas is odorless and tasteless. It can deplete your oxygen to the point of death.

Symptoms include

  • Dull headache.
  • Weakness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Confusion.
  • Blurred vision.
  • ships-propeller-160489_960_720Loss of consciousness.

Propeller Injury. Avoid severe and potentially deadly injuries and turn your engine off when people are in the water near the boat’s propeller.

If your boat is equipped with an engine cut-off switch lanyard, please ensure it is attached to the operator.


10. Help! There’s An Accident! 

Do you know what to do in case of a boating accident? 

help-153094_960_720If involved in a boating accident, stay calm and do the following:

  • Help other people in the accident to the extent you are able.
  • Exchange contact information with any injured person or owner of property damaged.
  • Notify law enforcement immediately if anyone dies, disappears, requires treatment beyond simple first-aid, or combined property damage exceeds $2,000.
  • Do not leave the scene before rendering aid, exchanging information, and notifying local law enforcement. leaving the scene of an accident is illegal.
  • Submit an Accident Report. Complete and sign boat owner/operator accident report form and submit it to Utah State Parks within 10 days. Forms are available from a park ranger or at


General Questions
Phone: 801-538-5500

1594 West North Temple, suite 100
Salt Lake City, UT 84116

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