Are Life Jackets Required On Kayaks In Florida

Are Life Jackets Required On Kayaks In Florida – Water Adventures

As the summer season begins, we put away our wool sweaters and be prepared for the warmer weather. Whether you’re planning to zigzag through waves in a kayak or just relax on a boat, safety is a must, especially in Florida.

If you’re unconscious of taking life vests, or other safety wear, Florida has strict rules about kayaking. Are life jackets required on kayaks in Florida or not?

Yes, according to the kayaking law of Florida, every person on board a kayak must wear a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket. And children younger than 6 and wearing USCG-approved type I, II, III, or V flotation devices are permitted on board. 

Is it really dangerous or just a rule- let’s break it down. So, keep continuing to learn more!

Why Is It Important To Have Life Jackets?

Life jackets help prevent drowning. So, if you want to avoid a boating accident, ensure everyone on the boat is properly wearing a life jacket.

Life jackets are designed to keep people afloat in water. They work by inflating and holding a person’s head and torso out of the water. A life jacket is a personal flotation device. 

It should be viewed as a last line of defense against drowning. People who fall into the water may panic and not recognize their situation. In that case, a life jacket will help them stay afloat.

What Safety Equipment Should A Kayaker Always Carry With Them?

If you plan on kayaking more than a couple of times, then investing in a good PFD is a great idea. 

They are comfortable to wear and can provide you with a margin of safety that you should never take for granted. Besides a life jacket, you must carry the following:

  • Helmets, 
  • Sponsons, 
  • First-Aid Kits, 
  • Flotation Bag and 
  • Spray Skirts.  

Make sure that the straps of the PFD are adjustable so that you can gain more comfort or loosen them. 

Regarding other safety equipment, your best bet is to follow the three tiers of safety- be prepared, alert, and safe. Before arriving, you must take all the safety gear properly and cross-check them.  

Be patient and prepared when you are involved in water sports. You must follow all of the rules and regulations set by the US Coast Guard to stay safe.

Are Life Jackets Required On Kayaks In Florida?

Yes, all kayaks must have a one-person minimum life jacket on board, regardless of the type of kayak. 

According to Florida Kayaking Life Jacket Laws, everyone is advised to wear a life jacket on board. And children younger than 6 and wearing USCG-approved type I, II, III, or V flotation devices are permitted on board. 

As a safety precaution, Florida Kayaking suggests that everyone wears a life jacket on board, regardless if they are a child or an adult, even if your kayak is equipped with bulkheads and a flotation device as backup. 

So, if you’re in Florida, you must have a life jacket when kayaking or at other water games. The best life jackets are personal flotation devices that are Coast Guard approved and fit properly. 

Is It Illegal To Kayak Without A Life Jacket In Florida?

Yes, it is! When a life jacket is mandatory for kayaking, enjoying the game and breaking the rules is illegal. Actually, it is for your safety. Because kayaking without a life jacket can be a serious safety hazard in Florida. 

According to, in 2020, the Coast Guard recorded 5,265 boating accidents involving 767 deaths and 3,191 injuries. 

Other statistics indicate that 75 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned. Of the victim drowning cases with lifejacket use, 86 drowned without one.

Also Read: Is It Illegal To Kayak Without A Life Jacket

What Type Of Life Jacket Is Best For Kayaking?

In general, any certified life jacket is good for kayaking. US Coast Guard has categorized the 5 types of life jackets for kayak or related sports lovers. 

  • Type I PFD

PFD Type I is designed for remote or treacherous locations where rescuing someone may take a while. They are bulky but also have the best buoyancy and will flip a person who is unconscious to the face-up position.

  • Type II PFD

Generally, a Type II PFD is a basic design that can make wearers unconscious and turn them to the other side. It has three basic types: inflatable, inherently buoyant, and hybrid. Besides, it is designed for calm inland waters that are likely to be rapidly accessible. 

  • Type III PFD

Type III PFDs are designed for paddlers at risk of quick rescue. Providing comfortable wear and ample freedom of movement, these PFDs are available in inflatable, inherently buoyant, and hybrid models.

  • Type IV PFD

Self-inflating float devices, known as type IV PFD. This type is perfect for a conscious person in danger and provides backup to a PFD. Type IV PFD should not be worn, and they are entirely unsuitable for kayaks and canoes.

  • Type V PFD

The USCG defines Type V PFDs as special-use items and deems them suitable for certain activities. V PFDs must always be worn to carry one and must be worn while taking part in the designated activity for which you are issued an endorsement. They have differences regarding inflatable and hybrid construction.

But canoers, kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders almost always take one of these types: Type III or type V. Because these two types of life jackets are comfortable for kayakers.


  • What do you have to have on a kayak in Florida?

The USCG mandates that each vessel have at least one approved personal flotation device for each person. The PFD for your child must be the correct size for the intended wearer and not be worn out, broken, or in poor repair. The state of Florida urges all people on board a recreational boat to wear a life jacket.

  • What are the laws for kayaking in Florida?

According to Kayaking VDS Law, vessels under 16 feet in length must carry 3-night VDS on coastal waters. Over 16 feet must carry 3 evenings, 3 nights, and 3-day torpedoes.

  • Do I need a license for my kayak in Florida?

No, Florida does not have a boating license requirement. But you must follow their rules and regulations for water sports.

  • What is the life jacket law in Florida?

Children under 6 years old are on any watercraft under 26 feet in length. Each person on the seaworthiness of every vessel being towed.

Final Words

There are many things to consider while kayaking. A life jacket is one of the important items for kayaking. Because if you do not take safety wear, you may high injured and even near death. 

When you’re kayaking in Florida, you need to know if life jackets are required on kayaks in Florida or not. When planning your trip, take safety equipment first and check weather conditions. 

If possible, avoid larger rivers and higher water levels. Check the tide before kayaking in Florida as well. Happy kayaking!

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