5 Jet Ski Safety Rules to Live By

Emily Abbate
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jet ski safetyRiding a jet ski is probably one of the most exciting things you can do on the water. But the truth of the matter is, many people don't think before they hop on, as exemplified by Sean Kingston on Monday. The singer was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital after crashing his personal jet ski into an oncoming bridge. What's that saying? Oh right: It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt.

Personally, I've never done anything more than cruise along my local shoreline, going no more than 5 mph. I'm way too scared to go fast. I think: What if it tips? What would I do? We've all seen them, the jet skiers who go super fast, bouncing up and down on the waves. Thrill-seekers, they are. Risk-takers, I'd say.

Fortunately, Kingston is expected to fully recover within six weeks. Let us take his example as a reason to brush up on a few jet ski safety procedures. Courtesy of safetyresource.org, here are some tips to help us all safely enjoy one of summer's most fun water activities:

  • You need a life jacket. I don't care if it's not stylish and you can swim as well as Michael Phelps. I also don't care about your vice against wacky tan lines. That's what spray tans are for, my friends.
  • Use the vehicle's safety precautions. For some jet skis, that means a lanyard that is placed around the wrist, attaching you to the handlebars of the watercraft. Often referred to as a kill cord, the string operates a kill switch when the operator goes overboard, deactivating your ride. Without a kill cord, your jet ski could continue to operate with out you in control, and hurt someone else in the process.
  • Stay alert. It's easy to get caught up in the moment once you get a hand of handling the jet ski. But other boats, skiers, divers, or swimmers could be in your general area. 
  • Don't drink and jet. This should be obvious, but it's not always the case. I understand that taking a ride after a few beers may seem like a good idea, at the time. But the possibility of injury just isn't worth the risk. Of course, the same rules apply while being a passenger, too. Intoxication for anyone involved is just a distraction.
  • Don't get cocky. So you've noticed a passing motor boat and the waves that it has left behind. Using these waves as a ramp or launching point could send you and your jet ski flying in a bad direction, or even worse, upside down.

And a tip of my own: Different models make a difference. Get familiar with the specific jet ski you're riding, and take it for a test spin with someone who knows what's up. Never just assume that you'll "get the swing of it." Because the scary truth of it all is that one assumption could cost you your life.

Have you ridden a jet ski before? And if so, what safety precautions do you take on the water?

Image via abbynormy/ Flickr

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