For example, there’s a far greater chance that the driver will fall off a PWC than a boat, so having a kill-switch lanyard attached to your wrist or wetsuit that shuts off the engine when disengaged – ie: you get “ejected” – is an absolute must while on a PWC. Wearing a kill-switch lanyard on a small boat also is a good idea, but it’s not always heeded.
Likewise, it’s essential for PWC riders to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket at all times. If you are ejected from a PWC, there’s no time to put a life jacket on, and wearing one could save your life.
In many states it’s the law that every PWC rider must wear a life jacket. However, laws differ from state to state, so please check your state’s regulations regarding PWC operation.
Here are 10 Tips from Sea Insure®, Sea Tow’s comprehensive, members-only marine insurance provider, that can help you safely enjoy your personal watercraft experience.
- Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on a PWC. It could save your life or the life of a passenger.
- Make sure the driver attaches a kill-switch lanyard for the engine. If the driver falls off, the lanyard disconnects and the PWC’s engine shuts down, allowing for re-boarding and preventing a runaway PWC.
- Keep your distance from other vessels. This includes other personal watercraft.
- Do not use waves and the wakes made by boats as ramps for jumps. Limited vision may cause an accident with another boat coming the opposite way.
- Never operate a PWC if you have consumed alcohol or other drugs. Impaired operators can cause accidents and may face legal charges.
- Do not drive a PWC unless you have reached the legal age. In some states the minimum age is 11 years old to operate a PWC, in other states it is 16. Check your state’s regulations.
- If you are operating a PWC in cold water, consider wearing a wetsuit. It will help prevent the risk of hypothermia, particularly if you fall off or jump into the water.
- Be sure to wear sunscreen and bring along bottled water. Most PWCs have a storage compartment where you can store water and snacks. It’s a good idea to bring some form of identification along as well.
- Riding a PWC before sunrise or after sunset is strictly prohibited. So before the sun goes down, it’s time to head back to the shore.
- Have proper insurance in place for your PWC. Sea Insure® now offers coverage on your personal watercraft. You’ve invested a lot of time and money in your PWC, so make sure you’re receiving the proper coverage you need in order keep it safe in and out of the water. As a reminder, your homeowner’s policy will not cover PWC–you need separate insurance coverage.