Person safely using water skis

Stay safe on water skis and jet skis

They're fun recreational activities on the water, but you still have to obey the rules.

Few things are as exhilarating as summertime water sports. But whether you're operating a personal watercraft (PWC) or being towed behind one, make safety your number one priority with these suggestions.

All-around safety rules for water sports

  • Participate in a water or boater safety course.
  • Wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Always let someone know where you're going before you head out.
  • Boat only during fair weather.
  • Don't participate in high-speed sports in low-light or after dark.
  • Don't ski if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Water skiing safety

  • Inspect your equipment.
  • If you aren't familiar with the body of water, ask someone who is about areas to avoid.
  • Avoid skiing in shallow water or on small or busy lakes.
  • Review hand signals. Typically, an extended right or left hand indicates the direction to turn, a thumbs up or down directs drivers to adjust speed and a raised palm means stop.
  • Make sure a spotter is on board with the driver.
  • As soon as you begin to fall, release the towrope and fall backward so you don't injure yourself on the ski.
  • Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • When you're down, hold up a ski to make yourself visible.
  • Don't approach or board the boat until the engine is off.

Jet ski safety

Personal Watercrafts (PWC) such as Jet skis, WaveRunners and Sea-doos have several safety tips as well.

  • Be sure you meet your state's minimum operating age and education requirements.
  • Before leaving, check the PWC to be sure it's in working order and that you have the necessary equipment on board.
  • Wear eye protection.
  • Keep the ignition safety switch lanyard on your wrist or hooked to your life jacket. This cuts power to the engine if you fall off.
  • Follow basic boating rules and practice proper boating etiquette.
  • If you fall, don’t attempt to hang on, and get clear of the watercraft.
  • Avoid dangerous maneuvers like using another watercraft's wake as a ramp.
  • When pulling a person, your PWC should be able to seat you, a spotter and the person being towed.
  • Keep your feet inside the PWC, and maintain a firm grip on the handlebars or the strap on a 3-seat jet ski.
  • Ride defensively. Scan for boats and objects in your path, and drive at responsible speeds. Remember, most PWCs don't have a braking system, and you'll lose steering capability when the power is off.

Learn more about personal watercraft safety from the United States Coast Guard. And contact your State Farm® agent to help make sure your watercraft 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.

State Farm Fire and Casualty Company
State Farm General Insurance Company
Bloomington, IL

State Farm Florida Insurance Company
Winter Haven, FL

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