Jet skis are a top favorite watercraft for lake goers and beach lovers alike. But what makes them so appealing?
Jet skis are universally beloved by riders because they give instant access to high-performance without extensive training.
Ever learned to ride a motorcycle? Or drive a NASCAR? Those machines can be pretty intimidating and difficult to operate for beginners. But a jet ski is a cinch. It’s not complicated for beginners to operate a jet ski. But this is also what makes them trouble for unsafe and inexperienced operators. The simple controls betray real danger when people operate them without taking proper safety precautions. Jet skis are a dangerous mix of high-performance and easy accessibility. Fatalities on Texas waterways increased 45% in 2020 from 2019, while fatal accidents on the water rose by 61%. Safety should always be a priority on the water. That’s why it’s so important, especially for beginners and young operators, to follow these tips if you’re heading out on the water.
Tip #1: Get Certified (and carry it with you)
In Texas, Boater Education training and a valid ID is required for those born on or after September 1, 1993 in order to legally operate a vessel powered by a motor of more than 15 horsepower (basically all jet skis). That means that almost everyone 28 and younger needs to get trained. Plus, if you’re under 18 years old you’ll need to be at least 13 to operate a jet ski, and while riding, you’ll need to be accompanied by an 18-year-old that has also completed Boater Education training. This rule helps to make sure that younger drivers can get help and guidance while they’re on the water. It may seem overkill, but the reality is that 612 watercraft accidents in 2020 were direct results of operator inexperience. Don’t be one of them.
Get more info on Boater Education training here.
Tip #2: Use The Safety Cut-Off Switch
Every jet ski is manufactured with a safety cut-off (ECOS) switch that will stop the vessel in case you fall off while operating it. Common systems for jet ski safety switches include a wrist strap connected to a lanyard that will pull a switch or clip and kill the ignition if you happen to fall off for any reason. Use this safety system. You significantly reduce your risk of serious injury or drowning by using the safety ignition cut-off switch. The safety switch is necessary to make the craft immobile and avoid hitting anyone, and also to reduce the swim distance as you recover the craft. It keeps the craft in control and it gets you out of the water faster which helps reduce the likelihood of drowning.
Tip #3: Wear Your PFD (Personal Flotation Device aka Lifejacket)
Wearing life jackets is the single biggest thing you can do to reduce your likelihood of serious injury or death while operating a jet ski. Out of 534 drowning deaths in personal watercraft accidents, only 74 wore life jackets. Over 450 people drowned without wearing a vest. The data clearly shows that you reduce your risk of death when you wear a lifejacket.
These tips are by no means comprehensive. For a deeper dive into watercraft safety in Texas, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife boating safety page here.
A jet ski being controlled by an inexperienced operator can present significant dangers with catastrophic results. Get trained, use the safety switch, and always wear a lifejacket. If you or a loved one has been involved in a jet ski accident, you may be entitled to damages caused by negligent operation. Contact us for a free consultation.