Jet skis are a pretty common sight in Florida – largely because they’re small, affordable and easy to maintain, while still giving people the opportunity to experience the joys of being on the water in the summer.
However, a lot of people mistakenly believe that jet skis are actually safer than boats, and that can cause them to take unnecessary risks.
It’s probably best to think of jet skis as the “motorcycles of personal watercraft. They’re fast, fun and they maneuver great – but they also leave riders more exposed to catastrophic injuries if there’s an accident because there’s no cushioning a blow. According to statistics gathered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there were several hundred accidents and more than a dozen fatalities involving personal watercraft in 2020 alone.
Tips to avoid jet ski accidents
Before venturing out on a jet ski, get some training. Learn how to control the jet ski, understand water conditions and navigate safely. This knowledge will enhance your ability to react to unexpected situations, ultimately reducing the risk of accidents. In addition:
- Respect boating regulations: Familiarize yourself with local boating regulations and stick to them. Understand speed limits, “no-wake” zones and specially designated areas that are restricted. Learn how to keep a safe distance from other vehicles and their wakes.
- Wear a personal flotation device (PFD): Always wear a properly fitted personal flotation device (PFD) while operating a jet ski. In the event of an accident or fall, a PFD can save your life by keeping you afloat and reducing the risk of drowning – even if you’re knocked unconscious.
- Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings: Look for potential hazards, such as boats, swimmers or debris in the water. Pay attention to signs, buoys and navigational aids to ensure you stay on course and avoid dangerous areas.
- Never operate under the influence: Just like on land with a car, operating a personal watercraft under the influence of drugs or alcohol is both dangerous and illegal.
Remember, your safety and the safety of others should always be the top priority when enjoying any water-based adventure.
Unfortunately, you can only control your own actions, and that still leaves you vulnerable to someone else’s mistakes. If you’re injured in an accident on the water, find out more about your legal options.