Emergency legislation, to be submitted by Rep. Richard Malaby, R-Hancock, would require all those on board kayaks and canoes to wear personal floatation devices at all times. Malaby said the bill was submitted at the request of a constituent.
The bill comes in the aftermath of a number of kayaking deaths this season. All of the deaths occurred when the kayaks overturned and their operators were not wearing their PFDs.
Malaby’s change would require anyone in a kayak or a canoe of any length to wear a Type I, II or III PFD on all waters.
For other types of boats shorter than 16 feet, there would have to be a wearable PFD on the boat for each person on board.
Currently, Maine law requires that there must be a wearable (Type I, II or III) PFD for each person on board any canoe or kayak under 16 feet in length in all waters but actually wearing the PFD is not required.
If the boat is 16 feet or longer, there must be a wearable PFD (Type I, II, III) for each person on board, plus at least one throwable device (Type IV) on board.
While wearing a PFD is not normally required by law, there are some exceptions.
Children 10 years of age and younger must wear a Type I, II or III PFD while on board all watercraft. There are also requirements that are specific to parts of the Saco, Penobscot and Kennebec rivers.
Anyone operating or riding on a personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski, or being towed on waterskis, surfboards or similar devices must wear a life jacket, life belt or similar lifesaving device.
Federal law requires children 12 and younger to wear PFDs when on vessels when on deck.