Jet skiing is a popular activity for many beachgoers, including Clearwater Beach. It’s a great way to spend a gorgeous summer day, enjoying the wind, waves, water, and sun. Unfortunately, it can also lead to serious accidents, as in a recent fatal jet ski collision that took the lives of two individuals. If you’re planning to use a jet ski as part of your vacation fun, consider the following tips to minimize the risk of danger to both loved ones and fellow beachgoers.
Common Jet Ski Accidents and Injuries
Jet skis and other personal watercraft carry a number of risks. Traveling at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, these vehicles can cause serious injury to their operators and others nearby, including:
- Broken bones
- Injuries to the neck or back
- Damaged eardrums
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal injuries
It’s important that individuals who have been injured in a jet ski accident seek medical care as soon as possible. That includes getting off the water immediately, and going to the hospital to be evaluated if there is any suspicion that an injury has occurred.
Avoiding Accidents and Injuries
While some accidents are unavoidable, there are several steps you can take to keep yourself and others safe on the water:
Complete proper maintenance on your jet ski. This is especially important at the beginning of the jet skiing season. Make sure that there is no damage to the jet ski, and that it is operating properly prior to use. Note that dry docking your jet ski when it’s not in use, including using a lift to keep it out of the water, can help reduce wear and tear on the equipment during the summer months; this also makes it easier to keep up with important maintenance tasks.
Wear the right safety gear. It’s important that anyone riding on a jet ski wear a life jacket. Even the best swimmer can be dazed or debilitated by a jet ski accident, and having a life jacket will keep users afloat should they be knocked unconscious. Make sure that life jackets are properly sized, and to pack enough for every user: too big, and the jacket can easily be lost; too small, and it may fail to provide adequate flotation. Wearing a helmet designed for watercraft use can help protect the head and spinal cord in the event of an accident. Proper eyewear can prevent injury and make it easier to spot potential collision hazards or other persons in the water.
Use your kill strap. Most jet skis come equipped with a “kill strap,” which attaches to the user’s wrist and is designed to cut the jet ski’s motor in case the user falls off. This will help prevent jet ski from colliding with the user or nearby persons in case the user loses control.
Avoid speeding. Be conscious of the area around the jet ski, including how close other riders, swimmers, or watercraft might be. Give yourself adequate time and room to stop, dodge, or otherwise avoid potential accidents. Zooming across the water might be fun, but excessive speeds also increase the risk of an accident.
Skip the alcohol. Alcohol can dull reflexes and judgment, both essential skills for jet ski operators. Jet skis should be treated like motor vehicles: save the drinks for afterward, and never operate watercraft under the influence.
Wear shoes. Many people want to enjoy the water without unnecessary or cumbersome gear. However, operating a jet ski without non-slip footwear can greatly decrease the user’s ability to maintain control of the craft.
Stay aware of your surroundings. Unlike roads, the open water doesn’t have clearly designated lanes. More importantly, it is often difficult to know who or what may be present below the surface. When operating a jet ski, make sure to maintain awareness of all surroundings. Keep an eye on the water around the craft, including what’s beneath the surface. Pay particular attention to any other fast-moving watercraft in the vicinity to help avoid potential collisions.
Check the water. Before operating a jet ski, make sure at least two feet of water is available on all sides. Don’t operate jet skis across shallow water.
Know the laws. Check local laws and regulations concerning the age of jet ski drivers, appropriate speeds, and other safety laws. In Florida, youth younger than 14 cannot operate a jet ski. Individuals under the age of 22 must have completed an appropriate water safety course, and carry both proof of completion and a photo ID when using the jet ski. Note that individuals must be at least 18 to rent a jet ski, but jet skis can be operated by individuals under 18 as long as the renting individual is responsible for the vehicle.
Supervise children carefully. Children may have plenty of experience driving a jet ski. It’s still important, however, to supervise the time teens and older children spend driving the jet ski. Parental supervision can greatly reduce the risk of an accident, and help young operators develop the proper piloting skills.
Were You Injured In a Jet Ski accident?
Unfortunately, even with proper safety precautions, the risk of serious injury is always present when using high-speed watercraft. If you or a loved one has been injured due to improper safety practices or the negligence of another, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact us today at (727) 451-6900 or online to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.