For Immediate Release - September 14, 2012

Massachusetts Environmental Police Remind Canoeists and Kayakers of Lifejacket Regulations

From September 15 to May 15, all canoeists and kayakers are required to wear personal flotation devices.

BOSTON – Friday, September 14, 2012 – As air and water temperatures throughout New England are beginning to cool, Colonel Aaron Gross, Director of the Massachusetts Environmental Police, is urging all canoe and kayak enthusiasts to use lifejackets when out on waterways across the Commonwealth.

“Paddle smart from the start – wear your lifejacket,” said Colonel Gross. “Drowning is the number one cause of boating related fatalities, occurring when boats capsize or victims fall overboard. Of those who drowned, 80 percent of them are not wearing lifejackets. Environmental Police officers will be patrolling rivers, lakes and coastal waters across the Commonwealth throughout the season to enforce state and federal recreational boating laws.”

Massachusetts law (323 CMR 2.00) requires that all persons aboard canoes and kayaks from September 15 through May 15 shall wear at all times a Coast Guard approved Type I, II, or III lifejacket. Lifejacket wear throughout the year is smart boating, and a recommended standard practice by the Environmental Police, but not until September 15 does it become required for canoeists and kayakers due to dropping air and water temperatures.

Throughout the year and regardless of boat type, children under 12 are required to wear their lifejacket anytime they are underway and above deck.

Water temperatures in coastal waters and rivers and lakes at this time of year can be as cool as 40 degrees - a temperature that can cause hypothermia and offset even a strong swimmer's ability to swim safely to shore. Paddlers are the target of this special requirement because of the much greater chance of their craft capsizing.

Lifejackets will not prevent hypothermia. But a lifejacket will give the victim one less significant thing to worry about: staying afloat. 

All boaters are encouraged to take a state approved boating safety course to learn the latest on safe operation and equipment requirements. Visit the Massachusetts Environmental Police website for links to our boating safety course schedule and other approved course providers in addition to links to state boating law. 

All boating accidents must be reported to the Massachusetts Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Office of Law Enforcement – known also as the Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) – is the primary agency responsible for enforcing the Commonwealth’s fish and game and boating and recreational vehicle laws. MEP officers, while authorized to enforce all general laws, focus on laws and regulations related to the protection of natural resources and public parks and land; boat and recreation(al) vehicle use; and hazardous waste disposal. MEP officers serve as stewards of the state’s natural resources, patrolling forests, parks, inland waterways and coastal waters throughout the Commonwealth.