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Check3GPS Readiness Quotient

Your supervisor may use the following checklist to determine if you have adequately addressed the risk factors for jet skiing. If you can answer “yes” to all the questions below, you should be good to go!

Are you aware of the boating laws of the state in which you operate your personal watercraft (PWC)?   

Do you inspect your trailer for working lights, inflated tires, adjusted bearings, and a working hitch mechanism?   

Is the hitch the right size for the ball you are using?   

Prior to riding, do you inspect the PWC for broken parts, cracks in the hull, leaking fuel lines and other visible defects?   

Do you and your riders wear a Coast Guard-approved life preserver?   

When you pull skiers, do you have a spotter on the PWC?   

While riding, do you keep a safe distance from swimmers?

  

Do you abstain from alcohol before and while riding a PWC?  

TOP HAZARDS AND HOW TO MITIGATE THEM

1. COLLIDING WITH OBJECTS AND PEOPLE 

Mitigate: Drive defensively, especially when jet skiing in crowded waterways. Be alert to other personal watercraft (PWC), boats, swimmers and water skiers. Designated a Class A vessel by the U.S. Coast Guard, PWCs are subject to the same boating “rules of the road” as yachts. Understand and abide by the Navigation Rules, which cover steering yielding, sound signaling and other actions for boaters to take to avoid collisions. You should also recognize the various Aids to Navigation (ATONs), including buoys, beacons, fog signals, and regulatory marks informing boaters of special restrictions or dangers. 

2. INADEQUATE LIFE VESTS 

Mitigate:  All drivers, passengers and people being towed by jet skis must wear a personal flotation device (PFD) that is approved by the Coast Guard for personal watercraft use: the recommended Type III PFD provides a minimum buoyancy of 15.5 lbs.—enough to keep a conscious adult’s head and chin above water. Your PFD should be comfortably snug, lightweight and flexible enough to allow you to maneuver the jet ski. It should also have a sturdy D-ring sewn into the bottom for attaching your safety lanyard.  

 

3. TOWING TUBES, SKIERS, AND KNEE-BOARDERS 

Mitigate: If towing a tube or raft, limit your speed to a maximum of 20 mph, inflate the towable to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure, and adhere to passenger capacity ratings. For all towable water sports, replace frayed, knotted or sun-damaged rope. Always have a spotter on board who knows how to use pre-established hand signals. Finally, be sure the engine is off when passengers are entering or exiting the boat, and use the boarding platform or step ladder when retrieving someone from the water. 

 

4. RUNNING OUT OF GAS/ BREAKING DOWN IN MIDDLE OF A LAKE 

Mitigate: The best way to avoid becoming stranded far from shore is to regularly inspect and maintain your machine. Know that the average PWC will go full throttle for 1.6 hours on a full tank of gas, and plan accordingly. Use the one-third rule: one-third of a tank for going out; one-third for the return; and one-third for reserve in case of emergency. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to have a hand-held VHS radio and back-up cell phone for emergency communications, as well as a solar-powered battery charger. 

5. OPERATING A PWC WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL 

Mitigate: Alcohol not only reduces inhibitions, but also impairs balance, coordination, reaction time and judgment. Don’t fool yourself that a beer is less intoxicating than a glass of wine or shot of hard liquor, or that a cup of coffee and wind in your face will sober you up. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, individuals with a blood alcohol concentration of 10% and higher are ten times more likely to die in a boating accident than sober boaters. If caught jet skiing under the influence of alcohol, you could lose your license, incur a hefty fine or even be jailed. Don’t operate a personal watercraft after consuming alcohol, and do what you can to prevent other jet skiers from drinking and boating as well.  

JET SKIING MUST-HAVES

Equipment 

  • Fire Extinguisher

    • All personal watercraft (PWC) must have a Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher on board. 

  • Operational Backfire Flame Arrestor and Ventilation System

    • The PWC’s backfire flame arrestor and ventilation system must be in working condition.

  • Visual and Noise Signaling Devices 

    • In case of emergency, PWC operators should have signaling devices on board that can be seen (brightly colored flag, flare, or mirror) and/or heard (whistle or air horn). 

  • Safety Lanyard

    • PWC operators must have a safety lanyard connecting the jet ski’s engine-kill switch to their wrist or life vest, so that the engine immediately shuts off if they fall off the vessel.    

  • Vessel Registration and Properly Displayed Decals

    • PWC operators must have valid registration certificate on board and registration information clearly displayed on the vessel.

 

Clothing 

  • Fire Extinguisher

    • All personal watercraft (PWC) must have a Coast Guard-approved fire extinguisher on board. 

  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
    • Most states require that PWC operators, passengers and people being towed wear well-fitting, Coast Guard-approved PFDs.
  • Wetsuit Bottoms

    • Wetsuit bottoms provide protection for body cavities when hitting the water at high speeds and coming too close to the jet thrust nozzle.

  • Gloves

    • Gloves prevent blisters and provide good grip on handlebars, throttle, brakes and dock lines. 

  • Water Shoes

    • Closed-toed, waterproof shoes protect the feet and prevent slips and falls.

  • Sunglasses or Goggles

    • Sun-filtering eyewear reduces glare and shields the eyes from bugs and water spray.  

  • Helmet (optional)

    • While not required yet in most states, helmets are a good idea for riders of today’s powerful machines that reach speeds of 65 mph. There are only a few PWC-specific helmets on the market, so mountain biking helmets are currently the best alternative. 

 

SAFE RIDER PLEDGE

According to the BoatUS Foundation, personal watercraft (PWC) are the most hazardous of all boats. While they represent only 9% of all registered marine vessels, they account for 26% of all reported accidents. While the original Sea-Doo introduced in 1968 was a single-rider vessel with a top speed of 25 mph and an 18-horsepower engine, today’s PWCs carry up to four passengers and reach speeds of 65–70 mph with up to 300-horsepower engines. Since they have no brakes, PWCs can take up to 300 feet to stop. In an effort to promote safe and responsible jet-ski operation, the Personal Watercraft Industry Association (PWIA) asks all jet skiers to commit to the following Safe Rider program guidelines:

SAFERIDER PROGRAM

  • Scan the water for hazards and other boats
  • Avoid aggressive maneuvers

  • Follow local boating laws, including rules to prevent the transfer of invasive species

  • Examine your equipment

  • React to conditions

  • Insist on a safe distance from other boats, swimmers and fixed objects

  • Drive sober

  • Evaluate weather and waterways

  • Respect the environment by avoiding fuel spills and operating close to marine life

Associations & Websites

Organization of PWC manufacturers

Recreational boating safety council

National advocacy group for PWC enthusiasts and dealers

National nonprofit for safe, clean and responsible boating

World governing body for PWC competitive racing