Safety Concerns for Riding a Jet Ski

While personal watercrafts (PWCs) deliver an exhilarating experience, they come with a number of safety concerns that should be addressed before you head out on the water. These risks can be amplified by poor maintenance, inexperience, a lack of protection and negligent operation. If you plan to rent or buy a jet ski, here’s what you should know.

Concerns About Jet Skis

Safety concerns involving jet skis include:

  • Capsizing: Although newer models are more stable, jet skis have a high risk of flipping over, especially if you make sharp turns or ride taller waves.
  • Speeding: Jet skis are capable of traveling up to 60 MPH. This fast pace becomes an issue if you’re sharing the water with other riders and boats or travel close to land. You may not be able to stop in time, resulting in an injury or jet ski damage.
  • Traveling Too Close to Land: Even at moderate speeds, traveling near land exposes your jet ski to rough, rocky terrain. This increases your risk of an injury and damaging the watercraft. Ride in water that’s at least waist deep, obstruction-free and away from the shore, where you risk getting sand and pebbles caught in the pump.
  • Submerged Objects: Underwater objects, including debris and rocks, pose an injury risk to jet ski users, especially when traveling at a fast speed.
  • Inexperience: Fully understand how to use a jet ski. Practice operating and handling in an open area of water away from boats and other riders. Stopping can be a challenge, as not every model has brakes. Some use a throttle system and all jet skis require ample stopping distance. Failing to stop in time increases the risk of injuries.
  • Boats: In coastal and lakefront areas, jet ski riders risk colliding with recreational and commercial boats. Similar to driving, a set of rules specifies how all vessels should share the water to avoid collisions. Particularly, motorized vehicles need to keep their distance from non-motorized ones. You’re also expected to yield to boats and never ride directly in front of these vessels, as they cannot always stop in time.
  • Drinking: Never drink alcohol, then attempt to ride a jet ski. Your lack of judgment and decreased coordination can put your life and the lives of others at risk.
  • Maintenance and Care: Inspect the cables, fuel and oil levels and engine performance to ensure everything is in working order before you head out on the water.

Common Jet Ski Injuries

If you’re not careful, the following injuries can result from riding a jet ski:

  • Eye and face injuries, from contusions and scratches to impacts that affect vision. Wearing goggles can reduce these risks.
  • Arm and leg injuries, including sprains, soft tissue injuries and broken bones from a collision or falling off the jet ski.
  • Head and neck injuries, when two riders collide with each other or you hit the water in a twisted position, resulting in soft tissue injuries, fractures or ruptured discs.

Improving Jet Ski Safety

Prioritize your safety this summer with the following considerations:

  • Use a Jet Ski Lift: When not in use, a lift keeps the jet ski out of the water to reduce wear and tear. Come winter, keep the jet ski lifted off the ground and away from the water while in storage.
  • Wear a Life Jacket: A properly fitted, U.S. Coast Guard-approved floatation device can help reduce injuries and drowning risks.
  • Use a Helmet: A correctly fitted helmet protects your head in the event of a collision with another rider or an object in the water.
  • Be Prepared for Emergencies: If the vessel flips over, you should know what to do. First, turn off the jet ski and swim to the rear to flip it back over, before getting on from the back. From here, you’ll restart the engine and ride the jet ski back to shore, where you should remove all plugs to dry out, ground the wires and add some fuel before replacing the plugs.

Along with being mindful of safety risks, make sure your jet ski is insured before taking it on the water. To discuss coverage for personal watercrafts, contact HUB International today.