Personal Watercraft: Required Safety Equipment

Also see educational requirements and operational rules for personal watercraft.

Title and Registration Numbers

Title and registration numbers are required.

Personal Flotation Devices

One US Coast Guard-approved wearable device is required for each person on board. PFDs MUST be properly worn by all occupants, including those being towed. Inflatable PFDs are not approved for use on personal watercraft.

Each wearable PFD must be in serviceable condition and of the appropriate size for the intended user. Wearable devices must also be approved for the activity taking place and used in accordance with the instructions on its label. Learn more about PFD fit and types.

Fire Extinguishers

One US Coast Guard-approved type B-1 marine-grade fire extinguisher is required. The fire extinguisher must be readily accessible. It also must be in condition for immediate and effective use at all times.

Learn more about fire extinguisher requirements and types.

Sound-Producing Device

One whistle, horn or other sound-producing device is required. The device must be capable of producing an efficient sound that can signal intentions and position in periods of reduced visibility.

Backfire Flame Arrestor

Backfire flame arrestors are required for gasoline engines installed in a vessel after April 25, 1940. An acceptable means of backfire flame control must be suitably attached to the air intake with a flame tight connection. The device must be US Coast Guard-approved or comply with SAE J-1928 or UL 1111 standards and be marked accordingly.

Exhaust Water Manifold

A motorboat must have an exhaust water manifold or a factory-type muffler installed on the engine.

Engine Cut-Off Switch Lanyard

An engine cut-off switch (ECOS) is an emergency switch installed on a PWC that is designed to shut off the engine. The PWC operator wears a lanyard attachment that will activate the ECOS if the operator falls overboard or moves beyond the length of the lanyard. The operator or passenger may also wear a wireless attachment that will activate the ECOS if the operator or passenger fall overboard and submerge the water-activated man-overboard wireless transmitter.

If a vessel is equipped, the cut-off switch, lanyard, or wireless device must be attached to operator, operator's clothing, or operator's PFD. It must be worn at all times by the operator when a PWC is underway. The operator must also verify that the ECOS system is fully functioning prior to operating the vessel on public water.

Texas law does not require the retrofitting of any vessel that has not come equipped with an ECOS. This does not allow for the removal of an ECOS from a vessel that was originally equipped.

Mirrors

A rearview mirror no less than four inches in width and height is required when towing a person.

A mirror is not required when towing a person if an observer is present who is:

      • on board the PWC,
      • not the operator of the PWC,
      • 13 years of age or older, and
      • acting in the capacity of an observer.

Towed Watersports

The PWC must have a minimum seating for two occupants to be legally used for towing of water skis, an aquaplane, a surfboard, a tube or any other similar devices.