When you like to spend time on the water during the summer, boating can be an enjoyable activity. A jet ski can give you an exhilarating way to explore the water. As entertaining as these personal watercrafts can be, they can also be extremely dangerous for both riders and people in their vicinity.

Know the Vehicle

Take the time to learn every facet involved with operating a personal watercraft to maintain optimal safety. These watercrafts have a kill switch that serves as a safety mechanism to stop the vehicle and avoid accidents. For example, you might have a safety lanyard that attaches to your wrist. If you fall into the water, the lanyard will automatically kill the engine to stop it immediately. This effectively prevents the watercraft from continuing to move unmanned. Always follow all manufacturer instructions and safety guidelines as well. You should never allow more than the recommended number of people to ride.

Wear a Lifejacket

Regardless of your swimming expertise, always wear a lifejacket when operating a jet ski. Current standards in lifejackets have improved their fit and appearance, making it less cumbersome to wear them. You will likely find lifejackets comfortable, easy to fasten, and lightweight. In the event of an accident, your lifejacket will help keep you afloat. Some accidents result in a loss of consciousness, which means that a lifejacket could be the only thing keeping you floating on top of the water.

Follow Local Laws and Restrictions

States and local communities typically set the legal age for jet ski use. Generally, the minimum age for driving one is 16, but some states and communities may have younger minimum ages. When minors use a personal watercraft, always ensure that an adult is providing adequate supervision.

Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Safe operation requires fast reaction time to maneuver, turn, and stop in response to a variety of different scenarios that could occur on the water. Alcohol and drugs inhibit judgment and reaction time, making it exceedingly dangerous to operate a personal watercraft after use.

Pay Attention

The landscape of the open water requires diligent concentration while operating a jet ski. You’ll learn quickly about etiquette on the water, which frowns on cutting others off with your vehicle. A rider must be constantly vigilant to notice boats, downed skiers, other personal watercrafts, divers, and swimmers. It’s imperative that you maintain a wide berth between your vehicle and other people in and on the water. Distractions or lack of concentration could result in a devastating accident with significant injuries. Human error is another risk. It’s even possible to lose track of the shoreline and drive right up onto the shore, putting people there in danger.

Jet ski use has risen significantly over the last 20 years. In 2013, over 950 accidents occurred in the U.S.; over 600 people were injured and 36 people died. When accidents to occur, they are more likely to involve serious or fatal injuries due to speed and user errors, so safety is imperative.