Playing on the water

We've talked about Fishing Safety - what about recreational boating and personal watercraft?

With common sense, you can have fun and still be a responsible boater.

  • Wear your life jacket. Always.
  • Make sure your boat has ALL required safety equipment. Especially a boating first aid kit.
  • Avoid alcohol while boating. Alcohol use affects judgment, vision, balance, and coordination. Reports suggest that alcohol was a contributing factor in about one in five boating fatalities.
  • Complete an approved boating safety course. You may save on your boat insurance, and you most certainly will be a more knowledgeable operator for it.
  • Know the rules. They were developed for your safety, and the safety of those around you.
  • Don't overload. Know the capacity of your boat and stay within those limits.
  • Boat with a partner, and let family or friends know of your boating plans.
  • Check the weather forecast.


Basic safety tips for boating apply to personal watercraft such as jet skis.

  • Always wear your life jacket
  • Make sure your craft has all required safety equipment
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Boat with family and friends, and if you are going to go out alone make sure that someone knows your plans
  • Check the weather forecast

Watch the Adventure Medical Kits Marine 1000 Boat First Aid Video!

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Steering and stopping 
Your personal watercraft has no brakes. Here are basic safety tips for steering and stopping your vessel.

PWCs are propelled by drawing water into a pump and then forcing it out under pressure through a steering nozzle at the back of the unit. This “jet” of pressurized water is directed by the steering control—when the steering control is turned, the steering nozzle turns in the same direction. For example, if the steering control is turned right, the nozzle turns right and the jet of water pushes the back of the vessel to the left, which causes the PWC to turn right.

Remember—no power means no steering control …

Most PWCs and other jet-drive vessels must have power in order to maintain control. If you allow the engine on these PWCs to return to idle or shut off during operation, you lose all steering control. The PWC will continue in the direction it was headed before the engine was shut off, no matter which way the steering control is turned. New PWCs allow for off-throttle steering.

A PWC has no brakes. Always allow plenty of room for stopping. Just because you release the throttle or shut off the engine does not mean you will stop immediately.

PWC steering

Engine Cutoff 
Most personal watercraft have an emergency ignition safety switch. Knowledge of this is a vital part of operating your vessel.

Ignition Safety Switches

Most PWCs and powerboats come equipped by the manufacturer with an important device called an emergency ignition safety switch. This is a safety device that is designed to shut off the engine if the operator is thrown from the proper operating position.

A lanyard is attached to the safety switch and the operator’s wrist or PFD. The safety switch shuts off the engine if the operator falls off the PWC or out of the powerboat. If your vessel does not come equipped with an ignition safety switch, you should have one installed.

Inmost areas, it is illegal to ride your PWC without attaching the lanyard properly between the switch and yourself.

Ignition Safety SwitchAlways wear your lanyard when operating a PWC.

Basics of operation
Courteous consideration of those around you and other boats will go a long way towards making your personal watercraft experience a pleasant one.

Courtesy When Encountering other Vessels

Jumping the wake of a passing boat, or riding too close to another PWC or boat, creates risks and is restricted or even prohibited in some states. The vessel making the wake may block the PWC operator’s view of oncoming traffic and also conceal the PWC operator from approaching vessels.

Excessive noise from PWCs often makes them unwelcome with other vessel operators and people on shore. Be a courteous PWC operator.

  • Vary your operating area, and do not keep repeating the same maneuver.
  • Avoid congregating with other PWC operators near shore, which increases annoying noise levels.
  • Avoid making excessive noise near residential and camping areas, particularly early in the morning.
  • Avoid maneuvers that cause the engine exhaust to lift out of the water because that increases noise levels.
  • Do not modify your engine exhaust system if it increases the noise. Improperly modified exhausts will not make your PWC faster and may raise the noise to an illegal level.

CourtesyBe a courteous PWC operator.

Watch the Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight 7 Video!
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Sports & Outdoors › First Aid Kits for Boats: Boating & Water Sports - Professional First Aid at Sea

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