Boating/Personal Watercraft Top 10 Safety Tips
- Wear Your Lifejacket Or PFD
An approved PFD (Personal Floatation Device) is required by law for each person on board. Since there is no room to store it, you must wear it. Remember, "IT WON'T WORK - IF YOU DON'T WEAR IT".
- Boating And Booze Don't Mix
Alcohol impairs your ability to make good quick decisions. This is critical when operating such a fast and maneuverable personal watercraft.
- Know Your Craft
Study the manufacture's manual and practice handling of your craft under experienced supervision and in open water well away from other boaters.
- Take A Boating Safety Course
Learn the common boating rules, regulations and safe practices.
- Look Out
RIDE DEFENSIVELY. Collisions with other boats or stationary objects like rafts or docks are the number one cause of personal watercraft injuries.
- Watch The Weather
Check the weather forecast before starting out. Be alert for the wave, wind, and cloud changes that signal bad weather approaches.
- Be Prepared For Cold Water
Cold water robs body heat 25 times faster than air of the same temperature. If you fall off your craft into cold water, immediately re-board.
- Know The Area
Do not assume the water is clear of obstructions. Rocks, shoals, sandbars, submerged pilings can seriously damage the craft or those on board. Check marine charts and stay in marked channels.
- Carry Safety Equipment
Besides approved PFDs and a sound-signaling device (like a whistle), it is prudent to carry a towrope and, when operating on a large body of water, some small type-B flares in a watertight container.
- Don't Ride At Night
Most personal watercraft are not made with the lights which the law requires for night riding.
Boating and Skiing
- Always check the boat for leaks and other defects before leaving shore. Ensure all necessary equipment is on board (life jackets, fire extinguisher, engine kill switch, horn or whistle, etc.)
- Ensure EVERY person on board has an appropriate U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approved life preserver of the correct size available. Check life preserver fit, especially for children.
- Non-swimmers or weak swimmers should wear a life preserver at all times while in the boat. In Texas, children 12 years of age and under are required to wear a USCG-approved life preserver at all times while on board.
- Be familiar with and abide by U.S., state, and local boating regulations, safety requirements, boating etiquette and "rules of the road".
- Become familiar with the waters in which you will operate to ensure you don't hit underwater objects such as trees, rocks, sand bars, etc.
- Leave a "float plan" or schedule of where you'll be and what time you expect to return.
- Skiers should wear a snug-fitting life preserver.
- Have a "spotter" on board besides the boat driver to watch out for the skier.
- Ski only in areas that are deep enough, have no underwater obstructions and are a safe distance from beaches and swimmers.
Jet Skiing and Personal Water Craft
- Be aware of Texas boating laws for Jet Skis and other personal water craft.
- Regularly inspect your trailer for working lights, tire inflation, bearing adjustment, and working hitch mechanism.
- Make sure the hitch is the right size for the towing ball you are using.
- Before riding, inspect the Jet Ski/PWC for broken parts, cracks in the hull, leaking fuel lines, etc.
- Use an approved life preserver.
- When/if you pull skiers, have a spotter onboard the Jet Ski/PWC.
- While riding, keep a safe distance from swimmers.
- Do not consume alcohol before or while riding a Jet Ski/PWC.
- Don't ride alone. Also, inform someone of where you will be riding and when you plan to return.
Have a safe summer!
page last modified on: 5/7/2013