Life jacket laws in Georgia parallel to safety concerns

CSRA News

The search continues for Marquez Bey. Authorities say the 23-year-old was not wearing a life jacket when he fell off a canoe this weekend.

It’s not actually required to wear a life jacket once you reach a certain age on a water craft.

Co-Owner of Savannah Rapids Kayak Rental, Katie Wright, says, “anybody 12 and under it’s mandatory to wear by law. Anybody 13 and over can opt out of wearing it.”

The jacket must be on board and it must have at least one whistle per water craft. The life jacket also must be U.S. Coast Guard approved. If it is approved, it will be written on the life jacket.

Wright says wearing a life jacket isn’t as common sense as one may think.

“I don’t wear life jackets. I’m pretty confident in my ability to swim, and it’s hot. It’s Georgia. It’s hot,” says Wright.

She doesn’t wear them, and she doesn’t expect her customers to if not legally required, but she doesn’t deny that it still can be dangerous.

“I’ve seen boaters get incredibly close to kayakers ,” says Wright.

The law says that boats must be 100 ft. away from other vessels.

“From all other boats, all other kayaks or paddleboards, or canoes which always have the right of way. It’s your responsibility to steer away from them. If you’re in a motorized water craft ,” says Wright.

However, boats have wakes, and those wakes carry.

“Those waves are going to carry for a substantial amount of distance probably the shoreline before they completely and totally dissipate. Even if it’s 100 ft away. Even if it’s 500 ft. away ,” says Wright.

If you’re on a motorized vehicle, like a jetski, or attached to one, like a tube, you have to wear a life jacket no matter what.

Although it’s not required to wear a life jacket, it is recommended.

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