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.
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.
- Release the towrope as soon as you fall.
- 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 skiing safety
- 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.
- Be sure you meet your state's minimum operating age and education requirements.
- Follow basic boating rules and practice proper boating etiquette.
- Before leaving, check the PWC to be sure it's in working order and that you have the necessary equipment on board.
- 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.