Boating is a fantastic way to soak up the sun and enjoy the water. With boats hitting the water in full force, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks remind everyone to stay safe.

Life Jackets: Essential for Safety

  • Every boat must have enough life jackets for all passengers.
  • In North Dakota, kids under 10 must wear a life jacket on boats under 27 feet.
  • Personal watercraft users and those towed on skis or tubes must also wear life jackets.
  • Windsurfers 16+ can go without a life jacket.

Make sure life jackets fit well and are in good condition. Water skiers and tubers should use life jackets with straps, not zippers. Anglers and paddlers should choose comfortable PFDs for extended wear. Paddle sports like kayaking and paddleboarding are on the rise; consider taking a free online safety course.


Boating Education

  • Kids 12-15 need a boating safety course to operate watercraft alone. Courses are available for all ages.
  • Click here for more boating safety information.
  • Current boat owners are encouraged to renew their registration online.

Montana Life Jacket Rules

  • Every boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person.
  • Kids under 12 must wear their life jacket on board.
  • Anglers in rowed or paddled vessels need life jackets. Those using kicking fins or sitting on the water don't, but it's recommended.
  • If a motor is attached, the vessel is considered a motorboat and must carry life jackets.
  • Click here for more boating safety information.
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Accident Reporting

  • In North Dakota, report boating accidents to the Game and Fish Department within 48 hours if there are injuries, fatalities, or missing persons. Property damage over $2,000 must be reported within five days.
  • In Montana, report accidents immediately to the local sheriff or game warden if there are deaths, injuries needing more than first aid, or property damage over $100.
  • Always assist others in an accident without risking your safety. Provide your name, address, and boat ID to affected parties.

No Drinking and Driving

Operating a boat under the influence is illegal. Alcohol impairs judgment and reaction times, increasing the risk of accidents.

Stay safe, and enjoy your time on the water!

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