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For up-to-date information on North Carolina licenses, regulations and other wildlife resources, please visit the agency’s website NCWildlife.org.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission introduced the “Preserve Your Life” campaign in 2017 to raise awareness and educate the public about the importance of life jackets. Wearing a life jacket is a simple safety precaution that can prevent tragedy from happening in the event of an accident. There's no reason to not wear a life jacket. In the end, your life may literally depend on it.
Life jackets have seen drastic design improvements over the years. Newer models are not the bulky, hot floatation devices that some boaters remember. In fact, many life jackets are designed for specific activities such as fishing, water sports and even hunting. These specialized floatation devices grant the user the freedom to enjoy their day on the water in comfort.
It’s important to put on your life jacket before heading out on the water. Even the strongest of swimmers can be incapacitated during an accident. In dire situations, there often isn’t time to grab a life vest and put it on properly. It can it save your life and can help you assist others who may be in danger.
Both North Carolina and federal regulations state that a personal floatation device in serviceable condition and of appropriate size should be accessible for each person onboard a vessel. North Carolina requires anyone younger than 13 to wear an appropriate life vest when on a recreational vessel. Anyone riding a personal watercraft or being towed by one must also wear a Coast Guard-approved life vest.
PFD Laws for Children
Types of Personal Floatation Devices (PDF)
North Carolina Boating Checklist: Rules of the Water
North American Safe Boating Campaign