PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced Thursday that it’s changing its boating safety regulations this year to require all canoers, kayakers and paddleboarders to wear a life jacket.
DEM officials said the requirement will go into effect on April 2 and violators could face a fine of $100.
The rule comes after three people died in Rhode Island while kayaking last year. The incidents happened in Newport on July 13, Lincoln Woods State Park on July 23, and Narragansett on Oct. 1. None of the victims were wearing a life jacket.
“Our regulatory changes are a direct result of the totally preventable paddle craft tragedies that Rhode Island has experienced in the past five years,” Boating Safety Coordinator Captain Michael Schipritt said. “There is no time to put a life jacket on before a paddling accident. It’s like trying to buckle your seatbelt before a car crash.”
Other new safety regulations ahead of this summer include banning anyone from riding on the bow of a powerboat unless it’s equipped with bow seats, requiring boaters to slow down within 300 feet of emergency vessels, and requiring all fire extinguishers on boats to not be past their expiration date.
For a full list of updated boating rules and regulations, visit the DEM’s website.