Water Safety on Oregon’s Rivers

The Law and You

This segment of The Law and You features Eugene, Oregon personal injury trial lawyer Don Corson discussing the importance of life jackets in water safety.

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Life Jackets Can Save Lives

In 2013, 77% of fatal boating accidents were a result of drowning. 84% of those fatalities were not wearing a life jacket.

In 2010, Oregon added stricter laws regarding the use of personal flotation devices on the water. All boat passengers must now wear a properly secured life jacket in sections of water rated Class III or higher, which includes rivers like the one our client was on at the time of his death.

The Corson & Johnson Lawfirm is a proud supporter of the McKenzie River Life Jacket Lending Program which offers life jackets to children and adults who would otherwise be without one for the day. The Life Jacket Lending Program is simple: you pick up a life jacket, leave your name and return it by the end of the day. Regulated by McKenzie Fire and Rescue, the program hopes to promote water safety and Personal Flotation Device (PFD) use at all times on the river.

Oregon Life Jacket Retailers

View All Life Jacket Retailers

Mather’s Market
38477 McKenzie Highway
Springfield, OR 97478
(541) 726-8570

McKenzie Feed & Tackle
39355 McKenzie Highway
Springfield, OR 97478
(541) 741-0191

Walterville Market
39317McKenzie Highway
Springfield, OR 97478
(541) 746-1875

Leaburg Country Store
42840 McKenzie Highway
Leaburg, OR 97489
(541) 896-0500

Vida Community Market
45602 McKenzie Highway
Vida, OR 97488
(541) 896-3261

Wayfarer Resort
46725 Goodpasture Road
Vida, OR 97488
(541) 896-3613

Eagle Rock Lodge
49198 McKenzie Highway
Vida, OR 97488
(541) 822-3630

Blue Sky Market
91808 Mill Creek Road
Blue River, OR 97413
(541) 822-3575

Meyer’s General Store
51748 Blue River Dr
Blue River, Oregon 97413
(541) 822-3531

Other Oregon Laws and Regulations Regarding Water Safety

  • All children age 12 and under must wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times while on an open deck or cockpit on boats that are underway or being towed. This includes sailboats, canoes, kayaks and rafts.
  • Inflatable tubes are NOT approved for children as a life jacket or personal flotation devise (PFD) and are also NOT approved for impact sports such as waterskiing, riding a personal watercraft (PWC), inner-tubing, etc.
  • All boats must carry at least one U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD in good condition for every person aboard, that properly fits the intended wearer.
  • If there are any rips, tears, or broken straps on the PFD, it must be replaced.
  • All PFDs must also be kept readily accessible for use in an emergency situation. Personal flotation devices in a plastic bag or in a storage compartment are not considered readily accessible.
  • Boats being towed must also have an approved Type I, II, or III device aboard for each person aboard.

Operator and Boater Education Laws

  • ALL powerboat operators are required to take an approved boating safety course and carry their boater education card when operating a powerboat greater than 10 hp.
  • Any child between the ages of 12 and 18 must take a boater’s education course before operating any kind of power boat.
  • Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to operate a boat.

PFD Regulations Exemptions

  • A child does not need to wear a life jacket while below deck, or in an enclosed cabin of a boat.
  • A child does not need to wear a life jacket when on a sailboat if the child is tethered by a lifeline or harness that is attached to the sailboat.
  • A child does not need to wear a life jacket when the child is on a U.S. Coast Guard-inspected passenger-carrying vessel operating in navigable waters of the U.S.

For more information, visit the Oregon State Marine Board.