You are probably familiar with hearing people say, “You have to understand the rules before you can break them.” However, to enjoy local lakes safely this summer, you need both understand the rules and follow them.

Most boaters already know that the laws require the use of a personal flotation device (PFD), or life jacket, no matter the type of watercraft involved. But before you get on your personal watercraft (PWC), you should understand the laws designed to keep you safe.

What laws must you abide by when operating a PWC?

As with most things, inexperience may lead to higher risk when operating a PWC. And if you involve alcohol or go too fast, your chances of sustaining an injury will increase.

A PWC can be a fantastic way to enjoy the water. However, to reduce your risk of injury, make sure you:

  • Carry your Boating Safety Education Certificate
  • Have a fire extinguisher on board
  • Wear your PFD, and require your passengers to do the same
  • Connect your ignition safety switch to your body, PFD or clothing
  • Possess a sound-making device for signaling your location

If you follow the laws and maintain a safe speed and distance, you can minimize your chances of getting hurt on the water.

Injuries you could sustain on a PWC

Likely due to their speed and agility, operating a PWC can be dangerous. There are many aspects of operation that new riders may not understand. For example, it can take time to learn how to maneuver or stop such a machine.

With 30% of reported boating accidents involving PWCs, it may not surprise you to learn that 36% of the injuries sustained while boating take place on PWCs. And although you may enjoy racing or wake jumping on a PWC, you need to understand that there is a risk of serious injury involved.

All water activities include a risk of drowning. However, PWCs present a higher risk of fatalities related to blunt-force trauma. It is common for those riding PWCs to fall off, lose control or make contact with another watercraft. Therefore, common PWC-related injuries include broken:

  • Necks
  • Bones
  • Noses
  • Teeth
  • Tailbones

As you get out on the water, remain aware of the laws regulating your activities. By following the laws and paying attention to those around you, you can increase your chances of safely having fun throughout the summer.