Best practices for first time jet ski riders

Handy tips on your first time out on the water.

Couple riding a jet ski

When it comes to using your jet ski for the first time, the key words to remember are preparation and safety. Don't just jump in and get your feet wet before following the helpful tips below. The more prepared you are now, the more fun and thrills you can safely have later out there on the water.

  • Become very familiar with its operation and maintenance before you put it in the water for the first time by reading the owner's manual.
  • Be aware that most jet skis have greatly diminished or no steering without application of throttle.
  • Ensure the jet ski is registered and the registration numbers are visible.
  • Don't forget to maintain the trailer if the jet ski is transported via a trailer.
  • Become familiar with basic seamanship and navigation rules such as overtaking another vessel and right of way rules.
  • Take a US Coast Guard approved Safety course.

What to wear when jet skiing

  • Always wear Coast Guard approved flotation devices for operator and every passenger (these must always be worn).
  • Water shoes to protect your feet
  • Gloves to protect your hands
  • Waterproof sunscreen — because let's face it, these watercraft are predominately used on nice sunny days.
  • Sunglasses
  • Depending on weather and water conditions — possibly a wet suit or even a dry suit if conditions dictate.

What to bring on board

  • Signaling devices — visual and sound. Examples would be a whistle and a small mirror. They are one of the minimum Coast Guard required safety items to carry.
  • Fire extinguisher is the other required safety item
  • A basic first aid kit
  • A small anchor
  • A length of mooring line in case of needing to tie off to another machine for a tow, preferably a floating line so if dropped it doesn't sink
  • If the machine is going to be used at night or in low light conditions then Navigation lights would be required
  • A dry bag to store important items, such as papers and cell phones
  • Ignition safety lanyard must be worn so if you are thrown from the machine the engine is disabled and stops
  • Depending on the area where the machine is operated — a compass
  • A small paddle or oar
  • Depending on the waterway — possibly charts for navigation

Learn more about water skis and jet ski safety and remember to contact your State Farm® agent to make sure your jet ski is properly insured.

The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm® (including State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company and its subsidiaries and affiliates). While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. State Farm is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the content of any third party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.
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