New Ordinance in King County Requires Life Vests on Rivers

King County residents will now be required to wear life vests when swimming, boating, or floating on rivers due to a passed ordinance.

Beginning July 1, 2011 the new law states that everyone must wear a life vest when they are on rivers that include the South, Middle and North Fork and main stem of the Snoqualmie River, the South Fork of the Skykomish, the Tolt River, the Raging River, the Sammamish River, the Cedar River, the White River and the Green River. It applies to people tubing, rafting, and using a surfboard, canoe or kayak.

The ordinance passed by a five to four vote. Opponents of the ordinance say that it is intrusive by “big government” but supporters say that it will save lives.

Swimmers or people wading more than 5 feet from shore or in water more than 4 feet deep will be required to wear life vests. The new ordinance does not apply to people at designated public beaches or for people who are skin diving.

People will be warned first, but will face an $86 fine for subsequent violations.

So, what does this mean for people in Lake Washington during Seafair? Nothing.

Should there be more safety requirements on King County lakes as well?

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