Jet Skiing often comes out on top when it comes to adrenaline-pumping water sports. But it’s also one of the riskiest.
So, if you’re excited to hit the waters on a Jet Ski this summer, it’s only natural to want to prepare as best you can.
But prep work goes beyond researching the best Jet Skis to buy or rent. Learning the basics like water safety, Jet Ski maintenance, maneuvers, and emergency preparedness is equally, if not more, important. After all, Jet Skis are vehicles with a lot of power. And if not handled properly, they can cause significant damage to both people and property.
Our handbook aims to help you get a clear and comprehensive understanding of the most important aspects of Jet Skiing. Let’s start with the basics.
Understanding Your Jet Ski
There are many different types of Jet Skis, each designed for a specific purpose. Some are better suited for fishing, while others are better suited for tow sports. Choosing the best Jet Ski will help you have the best time!
Here are some types you want to keep an eye out for:
- Sport fishing
- Tow sports
- Luxury and performance
Basic Jet Ski Parts and Functions
Handlebar and controls
Located at the front of the Jet Ski, handlebars help you steer the vehicle. They also hold all the main controls.
The hull is the lower part of a Jet Ski and helps keep the vehicle afloat.
Every sit-down Jet Ski will feature padded seats for the riders to sit on.
Maintenance Checklist for Jet Skis
If you’re also in charge of maintaining your Jet Ski, you want to keep a checklist handy to make your job easier:
- Take a look at the owner’s manual
- Check and maintain engine fluids
- Dispose of old fuel
- Clean the exterior
- Store the vehicle on a floating PWC lift
You also want to include essential annual maintenance tasks, such as:
- Changing engine oil and filter
- Draining and replacing pump oil
- Adding grease to all seals and bearing fittings
- Lubricating the parts
- Winterizing the Jet Ski
Essential Safety Equipment
The two main pieces of safety equipment to remember for Jet Skis are the safety lanyards and personal floatation devices (PFDs).
Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs)
PFDs, more commonly known as life jackets, are crucial in case of accidents as they help prevent the wearer from drowning. It’s thus important that you pick the right size of life jacket for your body and weight to ensure safety.
Lanyards keep you tethered to the Jet Ski and turn off the engine in case you fall off. They’re attached to your wrist or life jacket and are also known as the kill switch.
Additional Safety Equipment
Some other safety equipment you should keep on hand include:
- Whistle or air horn
- Coast guard approved fire extinguisher
- Registration numbers
- Distress flag
- Skier down flag
- First aid kit
- GPS or Smartphone
- Map and compass
- Bilge pump or bailer
Before You Jet Ski: Pre-Ride Prep
Before you hop on your Jet Ski, run down the following prep measures:
Check Weather and Water Conditions
The first step is checking the weather conditions and forecasts. If you expect rain, storms, or rough waters, avoid taking the Jet Ski out for the day.
And if the weather changes while you’re on the water, find shelter at a marina or cottage dock until it’s over.
Properly Equipping Yourself and the Jet Ski
Make sure you wear a life jacket, shoes, eye goggles, safety gloves, etc. In addition, ensure you have IDs, registration numbers, whistles, and other safety equipment. Stash them in a dry bag.
If you’re using your own Jet Ski, make sure to check that all the parts are in functioning condition. You can look at the owner’s manual for this.
Check Water Rules and Regulations
From no-wake zones and traffic signals to swimmers and boat traffic, you want to keep an eye out for water rules, including local laws and regulations, speed limits, areas of operation, etc.
Learning Jet Ski Safety Maneuvers
While there are plenty of maneuvers to master when riding a Jet Ski, these are a few you should focus on:
Steering and Speed Control
You steer a Jet Ski using the handlebars, and learning how to keep it stable is the first step in steering the Jet Ski at idle speed. But if you want to go faster, you’ll have to use the handlebars and give your Jet Ski some gas.
You also want to lean into a turn to keep the load balanced and centered.
To make your fall a bit safer, try keeping your body loose. It’ll help you get out of the tumble faster. Also, make sure you’re wearing the body suit, safety goggles, helmet, and other safety equipment to minimize injuries.
Dealing With Emergencies on the Water
From falling off a Jet Ski to boating accidents, an emergency can occur at any time on the water. Here’s how to deal with the most common ones.
- Move to a safe position and make sure you’re not injured.
- Look for a first aid kit in case of minor injuries.
- Tend to the injuries while you wait for emergency services, then see a doctor.
- If another person near you falls off a Jet Ski or gets into an accident, make sure they’re alright first. If someone is injured, call for help and get medical attention.
Other than using the whistle and waving your hands above your head, you can also use your phone to call emergency services or make a distress call on VHF marine radio.
Additional Tips for Safe and Enjoyable Jet Skiing
Jet Skiing can be super fun when you’re better prepared for it. And now that you know the safety measures you should take when prepping, here are our suggestions to ensure your body is prepared for a fun day out on the water.
Stay Hydrated and Protected from the Sun
Carry drinking water and waterproof sunscreen with you. Continue using both at regular intervals as Jet Skiing can deplete your body’s water levels fast and reapplying sunscreen will help prevent sunburn.
The Risks of Alcohol and Drugs
Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when Jet Skiing can be dangerous. It can affect your senses, causing you to make poor decisions and mistakes on the water.
Avoid Crowded and Unfamiliar Areas
Jet Skiing is best practiced in a safe environment, without much traffic. If you’re in a crowded area, you want to remain extra cautious of those around you and keep your speed to a minimum.
Lastly, you want to avoid skiing in unfamiliar areas, simply because you’re less likely to get help in case of an accident. So, stay close to the shore and preferably around some company.
Promoting Courtesy and Respect on the Water
Being a good Samaritan also extends to how you behave when on the water. The following pointers will help you be a courteous Jet Skier all summer:
Understanding Rights of Way
Having the right of way implies that other water users must stop and let them pass. So, when approaching a boat or other commercial/fishing vessels, Jet Skis must always keep to the right. And when two boats or Jet Skis are crossing paths, the vehicle on the right has the right of way.
Avoiding Noise and Speed Complaints
A Jet Ski is one of the few vehicles that can go from 0 to 55 mph in as little as 3 seconds. Not only is that a lot of power to start with, but Jet Skis can even go up to 70 mph. This means Jet Skis will make a lot of noise, too.
So, you’ll need to keep a closer watch on your surroundings when speeding — not only to avoid speeding or noise complaints but also to prevent accidents.
Respecting Wildlife and the Environment
Avoid using your Jet Ski when close to wildlife or natural habitats. Don’t make too much noise, throw litter, or spill fuel when out on the water.
To Sum It Up
Jet Skiing is a fun way to get out in the sun and make the best of those blue waters. And by following some easy steps, you can ensure that you and those around you remain safe.
Above all, make sure to keep your mind and body healthy. And use common sense to get through a difficult/tricky situation.
Have a great time on your Jet Ski!
FAQs on Jet Ski Safety
What to Do if a Jet Ski Flips Over?
If your Jet Ski flips over, try to get the Jet Ski in an upright position by following the rollover instructions at the rear. If you don’t understand the instructions, simply blow the whistle and wave your hands above your head to call for rescue.
How to Help Someone Who Has Fallen Off a Jet Ski?
Make sure the person is safe first. If they aren’t injured, let them get back on the Jet Ski. If they’re injured, help them call the emergency services.
What Are the Laws Regarding Jet Ski Usage?
Laws around Jet Ski usage are typically governed by local regulations or by-laws. These can differ for the state, county, and area you’re in.
- United States Coast Guard - Jet Ski Safety Tips: This webpage offers a wide range of safety tips specific to Jet Ski usage. It is a credible source that will augment the safety instructions provided in your content.
- American Red Cross - Water Safety Tips: This comprehensive guide on water safety from the American Red Cross can reinforce the safety measures highlighted in your post.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - Weather Forecasts: NOAA's website provides reliable weather forecasts, making it a useful resource to confirm the necessity of checking weather conditions before setting off on a Jet Ski.
- National Association of State Boating Law Administrators - Emergency Preparedness: This website offers resources on how to handle water emergencies effectively. Linking this source will add authority to your section on dealing with emergencies on the water.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: This page provides comprehensive information about the effects of drugs and alcohol, substantiating your points about the risks of substance use while operating a Jet Ski.
- Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) - Water Topics: This webpage from the EPA includes guidelines and information on protecting the environment and wildlife. This will lend credibility to your points about respecting the environment while Jet Skiing.