Supporting information—wearing lifejackets and kill switch safety lanyards

Find more information about:

Boating and boats

Open and cabin boats

Unlike a cabin boat, an open boat is a ship that does not have a permanent rigid deckhouse, cabin or other enclosed space suitable for a person to occupy.

Boating at night

You are considered to be boating at night during the period between sunset on a day and sunrise on the next day.


A boat is underway if it is not at anchor, moored, made fast to the shore or aground.

Coastal bar crossings

Coastal bars

Coastal bars form at the entrance to rivers and inshore waterways because of sand drifting along the coasts. Coastal bars are often the only way boats can access, or reach shelter from open waters. Designated coastal bars in Queensland include:

  • Bribie Island Bar
  • Caloundra Bar
  • Cawarral Creek Bar
  • Currumbin Bar
  • Gold Coast Seaway Bar
  • Jumpinpin Bar
  • Mooloolah Bar
  • Maroochy Bar
  • Noosa Bar
  • Round Hill Creek Bar
  • South Passage Bar
  • Tallebudgera Bar
  • Wide Bay Bar.

Find out more about coastal bar crossings.

Dangers with crossing coast bars

Small open boats, such as tinnies and dinghies, are more dangerous due to their lightweight and less stable nature. The power of the wind and waves (for example) can quickly overwhelm a small boat, regardless of the experience of the operator or ship's design. Wearing a lifejacket is important when crossing a coastal bar as your boat can capsize quickly and it is almost impossible to put on a lifejacket in choppy waters.

Kill switch safety lanyards

What is a kill switch safety lanyard

A kill switch safety lanyard is a device designed to be attached to a person and a personal watercraft (commonly called a jet ski), that will immediately stop the engine if the person is no longer on board.

Who should wear a kill switch safety lanyard

In Queensland, a safety lanyard is only required to be worn by the supervising licence holder when a personal watercraft is being operated by an unlicensed person.

Kill switch safety lanyards improve safety

When a kill switch safety lanyard is not being worn, it is common for small open boats (such as tinnies and dinghies) to start dangerously circling in ever-decreasing circles when an operator loses control of the boat. Often, if the operator has been thrown into the water, the boat may repeatedly head towards the operator who may be struck by the boat and/or propeller.


Who must wear lifejackets

In Queensland, it is compulsory that lifejackets are worn by:

  • children aged 1 year or more but less than 12 years in an open boat less than 4.8m long and underway (that is, not anchored, moored, made fast to the shore or aground)
  • all persons when crossing a coastal bar in an open boat less than 4.8m long
  • all persons riding on a personal watercraft, water skiing or tubing.

While lifejackets are not required to be worn for all on-water recreational activities, their use is strongly recommended as a consistent way of providing adequate flotation that can save lives. It is difficult to put a lifejacket on during an emergency if you are already in the water.

Lifejackets and children less than 12 months

In Queensland, lifejacket laws for boats only apply to children who are at least 1 year. For maritime safety reasons, we don't recommend children under this age travel on boats unless necessary. If you need to travel with your infant on a boat, we advise that they be held securely by one of the parents or another adult.

Types of lifejackets

The type of lifejacket you must wear depends on the type of waters you are in. Find out more about types of lifejackets.

Other safety equipment

The need for other safety equipment depends on the size of your boat, whether the boat needs to be registered and where you are operating it. Find out more information about safety equipment for boats in Queensland.

Lifejacket and safety lanyard reforms

Have your say about our proposed changes for wearing lifejackets and kill switch safety lanyards in Queensland.

Survey closed Friday 23 December 2022.

Last updated
27 January 2023