Canoes and Kayaks Do Not Need Throwable Flotation Device

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Throwable Flotation DeviceRALEIGH, N.C. (Aug. 28, 2008) – In an effort to bring North Carolina into compliance with federal regulations for recreational boating, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is currently preparing modifications to personal flotation device (PFD) requirements.

In state waters, canoes and kayaks do not and will not need a Type IV PFD, approved throwable flotation devices commonly known as ring buoys or buoyant cushions.

These modifications will clarify compliance so that:

Canoes and kayaks 16 feet in length and over would be exempt from carrying a Type IV PFD. Canoes and kayaks under 16 feet in length already are exempt from carrying a Type IV PFD.

Sailboards, racing shells, rowing sculls, racing canoes and racing kayaks would be exempt from requirements to carry any Type PFD.

In North Carolina, a personal flotation device is required for everyone onboard a vessel on the water. Both state and federal regulations require that a Type I, II or III PFD in good condition and of appropriate size be accessible for each person onboard. That includes canoes, kayaks, rowboats and other non-motorized vessels. Children younger than 13 are required to wear a properly-fitted, U.S. Coast Guard approved PFD whenever the vessel is underway.

While these regulations are being updated, only previously applicable laws will be enforced by Wildlife Officers.

For more information on free boating education courses or safety and requirements, go to or call (919) 707-0031.