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Risk on the Water: Preventing Jet Ski Accidents


With the warm summer weather and beautiful blue skies, many people hit the beach to get some sun or to enjoy one of the many water sports available to vacationers. However, water activities can cause injury, or even turn deadly, if proper safety precautions are ignored.

The improper use of jet skis in particular can turn a pleasurable afternoon into a trip to the hospital. The statistics published by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) are disturbing: in 2017, 151 personal watercraft accidents occurred in the state of Florida, with a reported 11 deaths and 141 injuries as a direct cause of these accidents.

There certainly are ways to enjoy jet skiing while decreasing your risk of an accident. Much risk management can be boiled down to a bit of common sense, and the rest includes some inexpensive fixes that will make your summer outing safer and less stressful.

Know Your Machine

A lot can be discovered by looking at the FWC’s statistics. 45% of all operators of personal watercraft had 10 or less hours of experience operating their machine. Moreover, 58% of operators had no boating education at all. The reviewing authorities reported that at least 33 of the accidents in 2017 were caused by inexperience. It’s worth taking a course in jet ski operation and practicing under supervision in a low-risk area before ripping through the waves.

Don’t Be Distracted Or Reckless

The second and third leading causes of personal watercraft accidents were distraction and recklessness. The same principles that apply to driving your car to work apply to any motor vehicle, especially one on a body of water: don’t goof off (this includes excessive speed, which was fourth on the list of accident causes), and don’t look at things you don’t need to be looking at.

Wear A Life Jacket

Even if you are the most amazing swimmer in the world, one bump on the head or an injured limb can change an ordinary spill into a life-or-death situation. A life jacket can be a life-saver, so forego the temptation to leave it behind.

No Drinking

Alcohol or drug impairment greatly increases your risk of causing injury to yourself and others; it prevents good judgment and quick reactions to bad situations. On a jet ski, a slower reaction can quickly lead to a collision. Like with automobiles, stay sober if you plan on doing any piloting.

Attach The Engine Cutoff Switch Lanyard To You

This one is a little odd, but it’s actually Florida law, and it makes sense when you think about it. If you accidentally fall off the jet ski and the cutoff switch is attached to you, the jet ski stops since the switch was pulled off with you. If the lanyard wasn’t attached to you, the jet ski would keep going on without you, increasing the chance of a collision.

With a little forethought and some common sense, your jet ski excursion can be a safe and happy summer memory rather than a cause for concern. If you have any questions about jet ski safety, or if you or your loved one has suffered from a boating accident, please do not hesitate to contact Meldon Law at 800-373-8000 or through our website.

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