Life jackets required for all types of watercraft in Colorado

By Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Special to The SUN

There are still plenty of warm days remaining this summer to enjoy water sports, and all watercraft owners are reminded to know the rules for carrying life jackets on board.

All water vessels — power boats, pontoon boats, paddleboards, jet skis, kayaks, sailboats, canoes, rowboats, etc. — must carry one life jacket for every passenger on board. All passengers ages 12 and under must wear a life jacket when aboard a vessel on the water.

“The life jacket rules were designed to ensure safety for everyone who goes onto the water,” said Kirstin Copeland, manager of Ridgway State Park. “Conditions on the water can change at any moment and we urge everyone on watercraft to wear a life jacket at all times.”

Paddleboards are growing in popularity, but some owners are not aware that they must have a life jacket with them. It is not unusual for paddleboarders to fall in the water and then be required to swim to retrieve their boards. If any wind comes up, it can easily push a board away and make retrieval difficult.

Any type of boat can capsize and, in cold water, problems can multiply for someone trying to swim to safety without the aid of a life jacket.

Park rangers will write citations to boaters who are not abiding by the life jacket rules. The fine is $52.50.

“These rules have been in place for many years; all boaters should know the regulations,” Copeland said.

To read the rules and regulations that govern boating on Colorado’s waters, see

This story was posted on August 28, 2014.