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Florida PFD requirements

  • Florida state law requires every vessel to carry one wearable USCG-approved PFD for each person on board.
  • It is also mandatory that all PFD be readily and easily accessible. They may not be kept inside a plastic bag or protective covering. Inflatable PFD are only considered readily available while being worn.
  • PFD must be kept in serviceable condition. If they are badly torn, damaged, rotted, punctured, or otherwise unserviceable they no longer meet legal requirements and must be replaced.
  • All PFD must be worn in compliance with the USCG labeling on the PFD (regarding the weight and age of the wearer, activities it is suitable for etc.)

Vessels 16 feet in length or longer

  • Vessels 16 feet in length or longer must also additionally carry at least one USCG-approved throwable (Type IV) PFD that is immediately available in case somebody should fall overboard.

PFD for children

  • Children under the age of 6 must wear a USCG-approved Type I, II or III PFD while on board a vessel under 26 feet in length while the vessel is underway.  “Underway” is defined as anytime except when the vessel is anchored, moored, made fast to the shore, or aground.
  • Children under 13 must wear a USCG-approved PFD in federal waters while underway unless below deck or within an enclosed cabin. Federal waters start 3 nautical miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean or where the Gulf Stream starts, whichever distance is greater, and 9 nautical miles in the Gulf of Mexico.

PFD for a person being towed  

  • Anyone being towed behind a boat must wear a Type I, II, or III USCG approved life jacket (inflatable PFD are not allowed for this activity).