CPW's life jacket loaner stations in memory of Tanner Chesnut.

COLORADO – Colorado Parks and Wildlife is begging people to wear life jackets while recreating on the water, especially around the Fourth of July. According to a press release from the organization, Colorado has already seen 20 water-related deaths in 2024, and the summer season has only just begun.

CPW officers are writing tickets for boaters and paddlers who aren’t following life jacket laws, with tickets costing over $100. Children 12 and under are required to wear a life jacket whenever their vessel is on the water, unless their below deck or in an enclosed cabin. One wearable personal floatation device is required for everyone on a boat, and boats over 16 feet in length are required to have an additional throwable device. Those rules apply to paddleboards and kayaks!

Colorado Parks and Wildlife:

  • Wear a life jacket​. 
  • Dress accordingly and protect your​self from the dangers of cold water shock. Regardless of your age or experience level, cold water can quickly create a drowning emergency.
  • Paddleboards and kayaks are considered vessels, and life jacket requirements apply. 
  • Heavy rain or snow melting in nearby mountains can raise water levels quickly and without notice. Check river flows at https://dwr.state.co.us/Tools/Stations.
  • Only boat or paddle in conditions in which you are comfortable and confident paddling.
  • Boat and raft with a buddy and avoid floating alone, especially during high flows.
  • For recreationists who want to go rafting but need help navigating the challenging water conditions, CPW recommends hiring a Colorado-licensed river outfitter.

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