Since we handle so many ski accident cases, I follow news feeds for ski accidents – and this time of year the news feeds are overflowing with stories of jet ski accidents. Daily reports for serious injuries or deaths from the use of jet skis. Although statistics indicate that jet skis are not involved in a significantly greater percentage of accidents than other watercraft, the accidents involving jet skis are more likely to be serious or fatal. So in the interest of contributing some guidance, here are some safety tips.

waterski.gifFirst and most important, you must always wear a fitted, Coast Guard-approved lifejacket. Second, make use of whatever engine-stop accessory is provided by the jet ski manufacturer. For instance, many jet skis come with a lanyard that is placed around the wrist, which that will automatically shut off the engine if the driver falls. Be ready to use this dead man’s switch.
Once you are out on the water, constantly be on the lookout for other boats, skiers, divers, and swimmers. It can be difficult, especially in choppy water, to see swimmers and fallen skiers, so you must be constantly vigilant and keep a wide distance from boats and the shoreline. Never operate a jet ski if you have had any alcohol or other drugs
Do not use waves and the wakes made by boats as ramps. Many novice jet skiers have been injured when they lost control of their craft after trying to jump off of waves.
And do not ride a jet ski unless you have reached the legal age to do so according to the relevant jurisdiction. Although in some states one only needs to be 11 years old to operate a jet ski, in many states one must be 16. At present, the personal watercraft industry recommends that jet ski riders be at least 16 years old. In Colorado, you must be 16 years of age or older may operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on Colorado’s public waters. A person 14 or 15 years old who has completed an approved boating safety course may operate a motorboat or personal watercraft on Colorado’s public waters. A person younger than 14 years of age is prohibited from operating a watercraft in Colorado.

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