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Colorado Parks and Wildlife
All water vessels—power boats, pontoon boats, paddleboards, jet skis, kayaks, sailboats, canoes, rowboats, etc.—must carry one life jacket for every passenger on board. All passengers ages 12 and under must wear a life jacket when aboard a vessel on the water.

"The life-jacket rules were designed to ensure safety for everyone who goes onto the water," said Kirstin Copeland, manager of Ridgway State Park. "Conditions on the water can change at any moment and we urge everyone on water craft to wear a life jacket at all times."

Paddleboards are growing in popularity but some owners are not aware that they must have a life jacket with them. It is not unusual for paddleboarders to fall in the water and then be required to swim to retrieve their boards. If any wind comes up, it can easily push a board away and make retrieval difficult.

"We had a close call at Ridgway Reservoir with a paddleboarder this summer who wasn't wearing a life jacket. The rider fell off and the board drifted away. Luckily the incident occurred close to the boat ramp and we were able perform a rescue," Copeland said.

Any type of boat can capsize and in cold water problems can multiply for someone trying to swim to safety without the aid of a life jacket.

Park rangers will write citations to boaters who are not abiding by the life-jacket rules. The fine is $52.50.

"These rules have been on place for many years, all boaters should know the regulations," Copeland said.

To read the rules and regulations that govern boating on Colorado's waters, see:

For more information about Colorado Parks and Wildlife go to: