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Boating Safety

Life jackets Save Lives

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) save lives. Get one and wear it when you’re on the water.

Remember that children 16 years old or younger must wear a properly sized and fitted, personal flotation device approved by the U.S. Coast Guard at all times when a vessel is underway. Get your child fitted for a proper life vest and lead by example by wearing one too. For more information on how to find the right life vest or for more boating safety tips, visit or

Consumer Alert: Choosing the correct Personal Flotation Device (PFD) can be the difference between life and death when on the water. Make sure the PFD is U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved. A USCG approved PFD will have an approval number on the label usually on the inside part of the PFD. A PFD that is not USCG approved is illegal and unsafe. More and more non-approved PFDs are showing up in the marketplace and are being sold at larger retailers where most customers assume it is an approved version.

All boaters are encouraged to ensure their vessels are in good working
condition and all required safety equipment is on board.

Louisiana Required Boating Equipment Checklist

  1. Those on personal watercraft (PWC) must wear a USCG approved Type I, II, III or V personal flotation device (PFD) at all times.
  2. Children 16 years of age and younger must wear a USCG approved Type I, II or III PFD while underway on a vessel less than 26 feet long. A wearable USCG approved Type I, II or III PFD must be readily available for each of the other passengers onboard.
  3. All persons onboard a motorboat less than 16 feet which is being propelled by a hand tiller outboard motor are required to wear a USCG approved Type I, II, III or V PFD while the motorboat is underway.
  4. Persons engaged in water sports, which includes but is not limited to water skiing, being towed on a tube, wake boarding, wake surfing, etc. must wear a USCG approved Type I, II, III or V PFD. An inflatable PFD does not meet the requirements.
  5. A motorboat less than 26 feet with a hand tiller outboard motor in excess of 10 horsepower designed to have or having an engine cut-off switch must have the engine cut-off switch link attached to the operator, the operator’s clothing, or the operator’s PFD, if worn, while the motor is running and the vessel is underway.
  6. Certain items are not applicable to PWCs because PWCs are not allowed to operate between sunset and sunrise.
  7. Required on federally controlled waters (offshore, tidal coastal areas).
  8. Required for inboards and stern drivers only.

Boater Education

All persons born after Jan. 1, 1984 are required to complete a NASBLA approved boating education course to operate a motorboat over 10 horsepower and must carry proof of such when operating the motorboat. A motorboat may be operated if any person on board or participating in any boating activity from the motorboat is over the age of 18, and if required to have completed a boating course, has completed the required boating safety course.

LDWF offers Boating Classes in every region of the state, free of charge to the public.

For those who cannot attend a classroom setting an online boating class is available, however, it is not administered by LDWF and a fee is assessed. Visit for more information about Boater Education.

To report missing/overdue boaters, report a boat crash incident or report violations, please call 1-800-442-2511.

LADWF Tips APP now available from the Apple Store and Google Play

Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries Law Enforcement Division