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Boating Safety
Boating Safety
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​New Boating Age Law

A new law goes into effect on June 1, 2024​, changing the age requirements to operate a motorboat in Colorado. The new law prohibits the operation of a motorboat, including a personal watercraft (PWC, jet ski, ski-doo), by a person who is less than 18 years of age. A person who is at least 14 years of age but less than 18 years of age may operate a motorboat if the person has completed a boating safety course​ approved by CPW and possesses a boating safety certificate issued by the boating safety course provider.

This boating age law does not apply to non-motorized vessels such as kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards, but life jacket requirements still apply.

​​​​Life Jackets Save Lives!

U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2021, and that 83 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.

There are many options for boaters when it comes to choosing a life jacket. When selecting a life jacket, a boater should check that it is U.S. Coast Guard approved, appropriate for the water activity, and fits properly.

For more information, see the National Safe Boating Council's Life Jackets website​.

Infla​​​​table Life Jackets

Everyo​​​ne knows that the best life jacket is the one you wear. Why not make it a comfortable one? Inflatable life jackets are cooler, more comfortable and make for better tan lines than traditional life jackets, but they do come with restrictions. You must wear one whenever you're on the boat, you can't wear them on a personal water craft or when you're being towed, and only people 16 years old and older may use them. Have fun and Wear It Colorado!​​​​​

Safe Vessel Operation

Boating on Lake Pueblo

Water sports are a great way to have fun in the sun, whether you take to the water in your power boat, sailboat, or canoe. In order to keep water-based activities carefree and risks at a minimum, it's important to keep basic safety practices in mind. The​​ Colorado Boating Safety Program promotes safe vessel operation while enhancing boating experiences.

Before heading out on the water, be sure to:

Learn more on the National Safe Boating Council website​ and Ready, Set, Wear It!​ Facebook page.​​


Take a Boating Safety Course!

The Boat Safety Certification Course is required for individuals who are 14 through 17 years old to lawfully operate a boat in Colorado, but it includes extremely valuable information regardless of age or experience level! Not only will the material help students stay smart and safe on the water, it can also save participants 10-15% on boat insurance!

​​​​The process is simple: 

  1. ​​Register for a Boating Safely in Colorado course at least seven days in advance
    • ​The course costs $15, payable at time of registration
    • Students must be at least 14 years old
  2. Review the "Boating Safely in Colorado" manual, available for digital download
    • ​​This is a self-study manual to be studied before the review session
  3. Attend a 2-3 hour review session near you
    • ​A parent or guardian is encouraged to attend with students 14 through 17 years old
  4. Take the final exam
    • ​​​​​​Score a 70% to earn your operator card!

Find out more: 

See the Search and Rescue FAQ for more information.