Personal Watercraft Safety Tips
There’s nothing like a day on the water – riding waves, the wind in your hair, and the sun on your face. Riding a personal watercraft (PWC) can be thrilling, but like operating any other vessel, you must know the proper techniques and safety precautions in order to stay safe. Whether you have a Sea-Doo or another type of watercraft, your top priority should be safety. We’ve rounded up some of the essentials to help ensure a positive and safe experience.
- Enroll in a boaters safety course
The U.S. Coast Guard considers personal watercraft to be Class A vessels – meaning the same federal rules that apply to boats less than 16 feet also apply to PWCs. However, in terms of steering and performance, operating a PWC is very different than boating. More than 40 states require riders to complete formal personal watercraft training. But no matter where you live, it’s still smart to take a safety class. Once you have the basic skills, it’s time to gather the items you’ll need for a safe ride!
- Keep a safety kit handy
Keep a boat safety kit designed for personal watercrafts on board. Your safety kit may include:
U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each passenger
A Coast Guard-approved B-1 fire extinguisher
Horn, whistle, bell or other sound signaling device to alert other watercraft
Flares or other visual distress signals are required for coastal waters
Backfire arrestor to help prevent gas vapors from erupting if the engine backfires
VHF radio and cell phone
Hand-operated bilge pump to remove water
Anchor for when you need to pull over and take a break
If a PWC is equipped with an engine shut-off lanyard, it should be attached to the operator.
- Wear personal watercraft gear
Gear is crucial and can easily make or break your PWC adventure. Make sure you stop by Gull Boats & RV before you head out to stock up on the necessary items.
We suggest you have the following:
- A waterproof whistle attached to your life jacket
- Goggles that protect your eyes from sun glare, water spray, and insects
- Diver booties, water socks or similar footwear to protect your feet and improve traction
- Gloves to strengthen your grip
- A wetsuit to help prevent injuries on the water and protect your body against the sun, wind, and hypothermia (this is optional depending on the time of year, location, etc.)
- Fitted helmet
- Consider these personal watercraft accessories
Waterproof phone case – even if your cell phone is waterproof, it probably won’t float if dropped in the water. A floating, waterproof case can protect your keys, phone, and wallet!
Folding paddle – if you run out of fuel or your PWC breaks down, you may have to paddle back to shore. A folding paddle is a practical and wise investment.
Traction mats – if your PWC doesn’t have traction mats to help grip your footwear, you may find your feet slipping and sliding.
PWC Cover – a quality cover can protect your watercraft from the elements while it’s being towed and during storage in the off-season.
Riding goggles – these offer better UV protection and a more secure fit and clearer view than regular sunglasses.
- Know how to safely ride your PWC
Always check the weather before heading out, so you’re aware of strong wind, sun, and other potential weather hazards. If you’re riding and notice dark or fast-moving clouds, return to shore immediately. Make sure you follow speed restrictions. Always assume that others on the water can’t see you and ride defensively. If you’re a beginner, it’s best to avoid busy areas. Be aware of your surroundings and keep track of the position of other vessels. Make sure you know how to reboard your craft if you fall off. Look for a label in the back or at the bottom of your PWC showing how to roll it upright or check your owner’s manual prior to heading out for the day. Practice reboarding with another person there in case you need assistance. Don’t let the engine idle or shut off during operation which will cause loss of steering control.
Overall, riding a PWC is sure to be a great experience when you know what you are doing and you take the right precautions. If you are looking for a new Sea-Doo, stop by or check out our inventory online. We also have a HUGE inventory of boats and RVs! If you have any questions, reach out to our amazing team of experts at 406-549-6169 or visit us in person at 2601 West Broadway, Missoula, MT 59808.