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 2015, 77% of fatal boating accidents were a result of drowning. Of those who died, 84% were not wearing a life jacket.

In 2017, Oregon added stricter laws on the use of personal flotation devices. 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 Law firm 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.  Organized through McKenzie Fire and Rescue, the program promotes water safety and makes Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) available in the Spring and the Summer.

McKenzie Life Jacket Locations

View All McKenzie Life Jacket Locations

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

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

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

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

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 device (PFD) and are also NOT approved for impact sports such as water skiing or riding a personal watercraft. 
  • 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 personal flotation device aboard for each person aboard.

Boat Operator Education Laws

  • ALL boaters who operate a motorboat or personal watercraft over 10 hp must take an approved boating safety course and carry their boater education card .
  • Any youth between the ages of 12 and 15 must take an approved boating safety course and carry their boater education card when operating any kind of power boat.  Those youths are allowed to operate a boat of 10 hp or less without an adult, or a boat of more than 10 hp if accompanied by an adult who has a boater education card.
  • Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to operate a motorboat.

For more information, visit the Oregon State Marine Board.