The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that starting April 2, all canoers, kayakers, and paddleboarders must wear a life jacket or face a $100 fine. The decision stems from the deaths of three kayakers last year who were not wearing life jackets. In addition to the new life jacket requirement, boaters are now prohibited from riding on the bow of a powerboat unless there are bow seats, required to slow down within 300 feet of emergency vessels, and must have fire extinguishers that are not past their expiration date. Boating Safety Coordinator Captain Michael Schipritt stated that, “There is no time to put a life jacket on before a paddling accident. It’s like trying to buckle your seatbelt before a car crash.” For more information on updated boating rules and regulations, please visit the DEM’s website.

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