Personal Watercraft Safety Tips
Most accidents on personal watercrafts (PWCs) like Jet Skis or Sea-Doos® involve a collision with another vessel. This is because many drivers out there aren't paying attention, are unfamiliar with the craft they've rented, or both. To make sure you don't wreck your fun, here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
Wear a lifejacket.
Wearing a Coast Guard approved life vest will give you plenty of room to move your arms around while protecting you in an emergency. Since concussions and head trauma are common PWC injuries, you'll want to stay afloat in the event you're involved in a collision.
Always be on the lookout.
With the wind and water in your face, and especially in high-use, choppy water, it can be hard to see downed skiers, swimmers and even boats.
Don't use alcohol.
As when operating any motor vehicle, it is best to avoid using alcohol and it will keep others around you safer.
Learn how to stop, and how long it'll take.
Almost all PWCs have a stop-engine accessory, commonly found on a lanyard that'll attach to your wrist. But don't assume the craft will stop quickly or that you'll be able to turn after the engine is off. It actually takes considerable time for a PWC to come to a complete stop, and it'll continue in its direction no matter what way the handlebars are facing once the engine's off.
Know the letter of the law. The following PWC tricks are illegal in almost every jurisdiction in the U.S.:
- Sharp turns near another vessel
- Jumping another vessel's wake within 100 feet of that or any other vessel
- Following a boat too closely
- Chasing another PWC in small circles.
And while some states only require you to be 11 years old to operate a craft, the PWC industry recommends that drivers be at least 16.
If you ride safely and smartly, you won't have to admit to your friends you hit a person, dock or boat. You won't have to wear a cast. You can just enjoy the ride.