Avoiding Injury on Personal Watercrafts

Personal Watercraft Safety – PWCs are defined as vessels that use an inboard motor powering a water jet pump, such as a Jet Ski. They are designed to be operated by a person sitting, standing, or kneeling on the vessel rather than sitting or standing inside the vessel. PWCs are subject to the same rules and requirements as any other powerboats. 

Local laws and ordinances vary, but will include the age of the operator, sunrise to sunset limitations, special no-wake zone provisions, assigned operating areas and restrictions, and speed limits. If you own or intend to operate a personal watercraft, you will need to check with authorities to familiarize yourself with local laws.

General rules to follow include:   

  • Learn to swim.   
  • Learn how to operate the craft from a qualified instructor
  • Know the water area you are riding in
  • Stay alert to the weather
  • Each PWC should be equipped with a lanyard connected to the start/stop switch, which is attached to the operator’s wrist. This device stops the engine should the operator fall off the craft.
  • Each person on board must wear properly fitted Coast Guard approval life jackets.
  • Observe common courtesy and consideration for other boaters and swimmers.
  • Be careful around other swimmers and surfers. Stay away from the shoreline and swimming areas.
  • Don't go too close to other crafts. Don't jump wakes.
  • Don't operate your PWC alone. Have a buddy ride with you so if one of you gets in trouble, the other can help.
  • NEVER operate a PWC and drink alcoholic beverages.

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