LIFE JACKETS (Personal Flotation Devices or PFDs)

Utah law requires that all boats have at least one Type I, II, III or V U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket of proper size, in good and serviceable condition, and readily accessible for each person on board. Readily accessible means easily located and retrieved without searching, delay or hindrance. All life jackets must be used in accordance with the age, weight, activity, and use restrictions listed on the U.S. Coast Guard approval label.coastguardapprovedlifejacket

Be sure each life jacket on your boat is in good and serviceable condition. Life jackets must be replaced if they show deterioration, including: Metal or plastic hardware used to secure the life jacket on the wearer is broken deformed or weakened by corrosion; webbing or straps used to secure the life jacket on the wearer are ripped, torn, or which have become separated from an attachment point on the life jacket; or, any other rotted or deteriorated structural component that fails when tugged. In addition, no life jacket may exhibit rips, tears, or an open seam in fabric or coatings that are large enough to allow the loss of buoyant material. Plus, any buoyant material that has become hardened, non-resilient, permanently compressed, waterlogged, oil-soaked, or which shows evidence of fungus or mildew, or buoyant material that is not held securely in position is evidence of a non-serviceable life jacket.

U.S. Coast Guard approved inflatable life jackets are rated as Types I, II, III, or V, and are more comfortable and less bulky to wear than traditional life jackets. Some models automatically inflate upon submersion in the water, while all models can be manually or orally inflated. If you plan to wear an inflatable life jacket, read the approval label for age and use restrictions, and learn how to check, inflate, and care for it. Inflatable life jackets may not be used by persons operating or riding on a PWC, being towed behind a vessel, under 13 years of age, or while boating on rivers.

Additionally, boats 16 feet to less than 40 feet in length must carry at least one Type IV throwable PFD and vessels 40 feet and greater must carry at least two Type IV throwable PFDs. Type IV PFDs shall be immediately available. Immediately available means stored in plain and open view in the area where it will be used, not obstructed, blocked or covered in any way, and capable of being quickly deployed.

Passengers 12 years of age and younger must wear a properly sized and approved Type I, II, aaa, or V life jacket when the boat is in operation. Type V life jackets must be used according to the requirements on the approval label. Children do not have to wear their life jackets while inside an enclosed cabin area of boats 19 feet or more in length.

Each person being towed on water skis or other devices or operating or riding on a PWC, must wear a properly sized and approved life jacket. On rivers, every person on any vessel including inner tubes, must wear a properly sized and approved life jacket. For persons older than 12 years of age, life jackets may be loosened or removed only while on designated flat water river sections. Contact Utah State Parks and Recreation for a listing of designated flat water river sections in Utah. Users of non-standard manually propelled vessels, such as air mattresses and inner tubes, are required to comply with life jacket laws when being used on any river or more than 50 feet away from shore, except in a marked swimming area.


All motorboats must carry a serviceable U.S. Coast Guard or Underwriters Laboratory marine approved Type B fire extinguisher. Each fire extinguisher must show evidence of being certified, recharged or serviced once every five years. If a fire extinguisher is unable to be certified, recharged or serviced by a qualified firefighting equipment repair service, it is considered disposable. A disposable fire extinguisher expires upon being discharged, with loss of pressure, charge or over charge, or 12 years from the date of manufacture printed on the label or imprinted on the bottom of the fire extinguisher.

Open-construction, outboard motorboats less than 26 feet long, without permanently installed fuel tanks, are not required to carry a fire extinguisher. However, fire extinguishers are strongly recommended when flammable fuels and oils are being carried on board.
Boats under 26 feet must carry at least one B-I fire extinguisher. Boats 26 feet to less than 40 feet must carry two B-Is or one B-II. Boats 40 feet to 65 feet must carry three B-Is or one B-I and one B-II. Engine compartments with a fixed extinguishing system may carry one less B-I extinguisher. Vessels 65 feet and greater in length must have one fixed system in the engine compartment and three B-IIs of which one should be at the helm, one in the galley and one near the engine compartment.


All boats must display navigation lights while operating on Utah waters between sunset and sunrise.

boatnavigationlightsSailboats under power must conform to motorboat navigation light requirements.
Manually propelled boats must display either navigation lights required for sailboats or a white light (flashlight or lantern) displayed in sufficient time to prevent a collision.
Personal Watercraft – PWC (Jet Skis, Wave Runners, Sea Doos, etc) may not be operated between sunset and sunrise, even if they are equipped with navigation lights.
Boats adrift or at anchor must display an all-around white light unless anchored in a designated mooring area.


Boats from 16 feet to less than 40 feet long must have a whistle or horn capable of producing a four to six second blast of sound. Boats 40 feet and greater must have a horn or whistle and a bell. A whistle or horn is recommended for boats less than 16 feet in length.
All boats, not of a self-bailing design, must have a bail bucket or mechanical means for pumping the bilge. It is always a good idea to have a bail bucket. If the battery dies, the bilge pump will not work.


Boats less than 21 feet long must have at least one spare paddle, oar, or motor on board.


All motorboats must be equipped with a muffler system in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive noise. For motorboats manufactured before January 1, 1993, it is prohibited for the boat to exceed a noise level of 90 decibels. Motorboats manufactured on or after January 1, 1993 shall not exceed a noise level of 88 decibels. It is also prohibited to have muffler cutouts or a muffler bypass system that is operational if the motorboat exceeds the noise levels listed above. A motorboat may not be operated in a manner that will cause it to emit more than 75 decibels of noise at the shoreline.


Utah is a “No Dumping” state. It is illegal to deposit human waste into Utah’s waters or on lands adjacent to these waters. Marine toilets must be emptied at dockside or other approved sanitation facilities.

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