Watersports Safety

Watersports, such as skiing, tubing, riding on towables and doables and wakeboarding,  can be fun if basic safety code is followed.  Don’t let a great day on the water turn into a bad one because you didn’t take the time to follow basic safety rules, have the correct equipment that is in good working order and review safety with your boat occupants and those participating in the sports.

All involved,  from the skier or towable rider to the driver and passengers, can enjoy fun on the water safely by observing these basic safety recommendations.

Above all, use common sense when out on the water.  There is no substitute for using your head when preparing for and while enjoying a day out on your watercraft.

 Prepare for Your Safe Water Experience:

  • Take the time to review federal, state and local laws for the water, the risks you can face with the sport(s) and the proper use of your equipment
  • Know the waterway you will be on, being aware of any hazards
  • Always choose a person (other than the driver) as an observer
  • The skier or towable rider, observer and driver must agree on hand signals before starting
  • Never start out until the skier or towable rider signals that he or she is ready to take off

 
 
Image Courtesy of US Coast Guard
Some Notes on Carbon Monoxide (CO) and Safety:

CO is hazardous and may cause severe health complications and even death.  Do not sit on the boat transom or boarding platform while the engine is running due to engine exhaust producing CO from that area.  Sitting in those areas may expose you to excessive CO.  If you can smell engine exhaust while in the boat, do not stay seated in that area for prolonged periods.

  • Never “Platform Drag,” which is defined as holding onto the boarding platform, or be dragged directly behind the boat
  • Changing boat speed or direction relative to wind can reduce or increase boat exhaust from accumulating near the boat and rider
  • If an engine is not tuned properly it can produce excessive exhaust.  Your engine should be checked regularly by yourself or a mechanic to make sure it is not emitting excessive exhaust
  • Consult your owner’s manual or the United States Coast Guard’s website for more information on how to help protect others and yourself from the dangers of CO poisoning

Additional Safety Considerations:  Weight:

  • Do not exceed the weight guidelines of your boat
  • Only use water ballast and people for additional weight
  • Do not allow passengers to hang outside the boat or sit on the gunwales outside the normal seating area of the boat.  Remember that uneven weight distribution or additional weight may adversely affect the handling of your boat
  • Never permit water to flow over the gunwales of your boat

The Importance of the Right Equipment and Safety:

  • Before starting a day of fun, inspect your equipment making sure bindings, fins, tube attachment points and the overall tube or towable condition are all ready to go
  • Check floatation devices, insuring that they always meet U.S. Coast Guard Type III (PFD) guidelines, making sure one is in use by all persons onboard

Tow Ropes and Safety:

  • Use the proper rope or harness for the activity.  There are ropes/harnesses specific to tubes, towables, wakeboards, skis, etc.  Select the right one
  • Never us a rope that is frayed, knotted or in any way damaged.  Always replace a rope at the first signs of excessive use
  • Your ski or towable rope should be attached to the watercraft in the approved method using hardware designed specifically for towing.  Always adhere to instructions in your watercraft manual on the method to properly attach a tow rope
  • Remember that a tow rope can stretch during use.  If a rope should break or suddenly release, it can snap back into the watercraft.  All occupants of the watercraft should be made aware of this potential hazard
  • It is important for all occupants be clear of the ropes prior to take off and during use to insure no one gets entangled causing potential injury
  • It is VERY important that all persons and ropes are clear from the propeller when the engine is running, including when the engine is in neutral.  If the rope becomes entangled in the prop, immediately shut off the engine and remove the ignition key BEFORE disengaging the rope from the engine

Remember, safety is everyone’s responsibility.  The skier or towable rider, passengers, driver and boat owner should all accept that responsibility and safeguard each other while having fun on the water.

Everyone should be aware of these safety guidelines:

  • These products are designed to be used on the water only.  Do not attempt to start from a dock or from land as this can cause potential injuries and even death.  Both the person engaging in the watersport and the driver should take ultimate responsibility to NOT attempt a start from a dock or from land
  • Remove slack in the rope between yourself (the skier or towable rider) and the watercraft prior to starting.  Failure to do so can result in injury from snap back or breakage of the rope.
  • Remember your designated hand signals we discussed previously?  Use them
  • Do not ski or ride in shallow water, near shore, pilings, docks, rafts, other obstacles, other watercraft or swimmers.  Adhere to areas designated for skiing and riding activities.
  • Both the driver and skier or rider should be prepared for any obstacle and make the necessary adjustments in their course to avoid those obstacles.  The observer should team up with the driver and skier or rider to warn of pending obstacles
  • Each skier or rider should know their capabilities and limits.  Start small and safe, then progress as you can.  There is no fun in making a trip to the emergency room on a great day on the water.  Do not attempt to use ramps or attempt jumps unless you have had instruction and are confident in your abilities to handle them
  • Remember that falling is something that happens in this sport.  Do not undertake the sport unless you are prepared for it
  • ALWAYS use a skier down flag in watersports to signal others that a skier or rider is in the water
  • When approaching another down skier or rider, the driver of any watercraft must observe extreme caution putting the boat in neutral
  • ALWAYS turn the engine off when people are getting in and out of the watercraft or are in the water near to the watercraft
  • Under NO circumstances should you be operating a watercraft under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Although these suggestions may cover most situations, we don’t attempt to cover every situation that could pose a risk to either skier/rider or boat occupant.

Use of common sense and good judgment should always prevail in any situation on your watercraft.  Boat responsibly and then have fun!
 
Loading...