Should wearing a lifejacket be mandatory? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 112 Old 08-16-2009 Thread Starter
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Should wearing a lifejacket be mandatory?

We've had a rash of drownings in Ontario this summer. Some of them have been swimmers, but there's now a move afoot to make it mandatory for boaters to wear a lifejacket/PFD rather than just have it on board. Transport Canada is reviewing the regs, and on August 12 the commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police issued a public statement supporting the idea of mandatory wear. No one is making distinctions between size or class of vessel.
I've already had a shot at this subject on my cruising blog. I quite often wear a pfd when sailing my C&C 27, as well as a safety harness (which the law doesn't require) but I think requiring lifejackets to be worn on all vessels, all the time, is regulatory overkill. It's like making all drivers and passengers in automobiles wear helmets because motorcyclists are prone to head injuries. I do think it should be mandatory for vessels 6 meters or less, which would take care of the vast majority of "problem" boats. (Besides, anyone with an ounce of common sense is already wearing a pfd when they're in a canoe, a kayak, or a sailing dinghy, not to mention a yacht tender.) I could go on, but I won't. Wondering instead how other people feel about this.

"Diva"
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post #2 of 112 Old 08-16-2009
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I live in Oregon. I believe we have a state law that requires any one under the age of 12 has to were a pfd on docks and aboard any size vessel, unless inside the cabin.
Canoes, kayaks etc is mandatory to where
We have a club rule, when doing club function racing, committee boat or cruise in to where one.
How ever when just mucking about we have to have one at the ready per person on board.

Seems to work here. We have had one or two river drownings this year, swimmers.

Have you thought about have to where up to a certain age group?
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Mandatory = bad idea

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post #4 of 112 Old 08-16-2009
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How about an age specific must wear. Here in Oregon 12 and under must wear a pfd on docks and decks of boats.
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post #5 of 112 Old 08-16-2009 Thread Starter
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Age-mandatory for one thing sounds good. We already have age limits on operating personal watercraft (jet skis).
We don't have strict rules at our club about wearing pfds on work projects, but when we assemble the sailing club's floating docks in the spring (and take them apart in the fall) the designated foreman has generally asked people to put one on, as the water is pretty cold on Georgian Bay on the shoulders of the season. People do put them on.

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post #6 of 112 Old 08-16-2009
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It's your own life, you decide. Boating is more dangerous than bicycling or softball, but not by far.
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Here's the Oregon state law on lifejackets. Mandatory wear is limited to kids (with exceptions) and boats on class III rivers.

General:

All boats must carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD) for every person aboard. Such devices must be in serviceable condition. They must not have any rips, tears, or broken straps. All devices must also be kept readily accessible for use in an emergency situation. Personal flotation devices in a plastic bag or in a storage compartment are not readily accessible.

Persons being towed are considered on board the towing boat and there must be an approved Type I, II, or III device aboard for each.

Children age 12 and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while on an open deck or cockpit of vessels that are underway or when being towed. Inflatable PFD's are not approved for children.

State Law -Specific terms:

No person shall operate a boat on Oregon waters with a child age 12 and under unless the child is wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device (PFD)/life jacket, of the appropriate size, while the boat is underway. Children on an open deck or cockpit of sailboats, motorized and non-motorized vessels (canoes, kayaks, rafts) underway must wear a life jacket at all times.


Beginning January 1, 2010, ORS 830.215 will be amended to read:
NEW (3) Notwithstanding the classification by the State Marine Board of the types of personal flotation devices approved for various classes of vessels pursuant to subsection (2) of this section, a person operating a boat on any section of waters rated class III or higher on a commonly accepted scale of river difficulty, and all passengers in the boat, shall wear a properly secured personal flotation device. The personal flotation device must be of a type prescribed by rules adopted by the State Marine Board.
(See carriage requirements and PFD Types below).

Exceptions:

* While child is below deck, or in an enclosed cabin of a boat.
* When the child is on a sailboat and tethered by lifeline or harness that is attached to the sailboat.
* When the child is on a U.S. Coast Guard-inspected passenger-carrying vessel operating in navigable waters of the U.S.

"Diva"
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post #8 of 112 Old 08-16-2009
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The racing rules require that crew in open water races have personal flotation devices on at the start and end of races. During the race, the captain may or may not require them; placing liability on the captain.
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Just wait, after they force you to wear a PFD, you'll be forced to wear a helmet next.
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post #10 of 112 Old 08-16-2009
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I don't think the gov't should be in the business of trying to legislate common sense.

On our boat, the rules are: PFD and clipped in after dark; PFD if going forward of the cockpit when there are whitecaps. I've also heard of the odd boat rule PFD if the sum of air temp plus water temp is less than 85 degrees (Farenheit)
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