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News Wear your life jacket when boating this spring

Wearing a properly fitted personal flotation device could save your life.
  • Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
wear a properly-fitted life jacket when boating

With nearly 1,500 miles of coastline, four major river systems, and hundreds of lakes and ponds, Massachusetts offers incredible boating opportunities. As warmer weather sets in, many residents will be taking to the water on boats. The Massachusetts Environmental Police and MassWildlife remind boaters to think of safety first when enjoying the water.

Those first warm days of spring can mask water temperatures that are often dangerously cold. If you capsize or fall overboard, you can succumb to hypothermia within minutes. Hypothermia is the lowering of the internal body temperature. This temperature drop can make it difficult for you to swim, paddle, or stay afloat. A sudden, unexpected fall into cold water can also cause you to involuntarily gasp and ingest water, which can lead to death by drowning. While most life jackets will not prevent hypothermia, they do help you stay afloat. Wearing a properly fitted life jacket (personal flotation device) could save your life. Most boating fatality victims were not wearing a life jacket. In Massachusetts, life jackets must be worn by: 

  • Canoeists and kayakers from September 15 to May 15
  • Youth under 12 years old
  • Personal watercraft users
  • Waterskiers
  • Stand-up paddleboard users

Learn more about boating safety and find boating safety courses.

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife 

MassWildlife is responsible for the conservation of freshwater fish and wildlife in the Commonwealth, including endangered plants and animals. MassWildlife restores, protects, and manages land for wildlife to thrive and for people to enjoy.