Texas Jet Ski Safety Tips
Riding on a jet ski can be fun for nearly everyone. However, if you want to enjoy this activity often, you’ve got to observe a number of safety guidelines to avoid having an accident.
Fortunately, Texas has passed laws and created rules that govern how this type of PWC (personal watercraft) should be used. Here’s a brief review of some of those rules, along with a look at some of the best safety gear available for protecting yourself and others.
Basic Age and Safety Requirements
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), “Children under age 13 are specifically prohibited from operating a PWC unless accompanied on board by a person at least 18 years of age who can lawfully operate the PWC.”
In addition, each PWC rider or occupant must wear a life jacket (inflatable life jackets cannot be used with a PWC). Also, if you’re riding on a jet ski or other PWC that’s equipped with a cut-off or kill switch, you must attach a cord running from that switch to your clothing or body (some people just slip one end of a lanyard/cord tied in a loop securely around one wrist.) Should you fall off the jet ski or other PWC, this safety measure will cause the engine to shut off.
Additional Guidelines for Jet Ski Safety
- Never drive or ride upon a jet ski after drinking. Drinking always slows down people’s reflexes and make it much harder to swim for help (or stay afloat) after capsizing or being hit by another vehicle;
- Keep both hands on the handgrips while driving. If you’re a passenger, use both hands to hold on to the person in front of you and keep your feet planted below you on the PWC – never let your feet drag on top of the water;
- Drivers and riders should always wear protective eyewear, gloves, and footwear. If it’s cold, you may also want to wear a wetsuit. Too many people wind up scraping different body parts after a jet ski or other PWC capsizes as they make their way to shore;
- Check to see if you must first take a boater safety course. Even if you don’t think one is required – it’s always best to take one. Everyone needs to learn how to properly steer a jet ski (or other PWC) after waves are suddenly generated by a boat or other PWC. You must also learn how to safely move around when other water enthusiasts are nearby;
- Learn how to swim. No one should ever go out in any watercraft who doesn’t know how to swim and tread water. Jet ski riders and others frequently capsize;
- Avoid making large waves since they often endanger others. Never closely circle others or make unnecessary maneuvers that might cause you or others to lose control of a PWC and fall into the water;
- Always ride defensively yet friendly. Also, avoid speeding and try to yield the right of way to others whenever possible. Maintaining a moderate speed can still be fun and will help save lives;
- Consider wearing a heavy duty whistle or “high noise producing device” so you can blow on it if you capsize. Keep in mind that many people find it hard to yell out loud while trying to tread water and signal for help;
- Don’t go out riding at night or use the jet ski too close to the shore. Jagged rocks and unexpected shallow areas can cause serious accidents;
- Never ride a jet ski without having one person onshore keeping an eye on you. This will greatly increase your chances of obtaining immediate help when you need it. If necessary, take turns going out on the water.
(You can learn far more about Texas safety guidelines for using jet skis and other watercraft by downloading and reading “The Handbook of Texas Boating Laws and Responsibilities.”)
Carlos Galliani is an experienced Texas personal injury attorney who fights hard to protect the rights of every client. He’s fully prepared to handle your boating accident lawsuit. Please call to discuss your case with Mr. Galliani at (214) 301-3400.