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Teaching Teens Safe Jet Skiing

Teaching Teens Safe Jet Skiing

As a parent, the safety of your children is your biggest concern in life. While you want your kids to have fun and experience all the world has to offer, you want them to be safe and sound. When it comes to letting your teens jet ski for the first time, it can a be stressful time for any parent of a new rider. Let’s take a look at a few tips for teaching teens safe jet skiing for an enjoyable experience for everyone.

Know the Laws

In every state, there are typically laws regarding the required minimum age for driving a personal watercraft. Before you worry about teaching teens safe jet skiing, you should check with the state regulations to make sure they are old enough. In many states, the age is anywhere from 13 to 16 years old to operate a jet ski and there may be a licensing process similar to operating a motor vehicle so check with the state to be safe. Even if your child doesn’t require a license for driving a jet ski, there are still operating laws they will need to know prior to going out for their first ride alone. From obeying speed limits and no wake signs to proximity limits for jet skis, there are plenty of laws your teen will need to follow when out on the water.

Know Your Teen

Aside from knowing the riding age and basic laws of jet skiing for your state, you need to know your teen. If your child isn’t responsible in other areas of their life such as following rules, doing chores, keeping up grades, then they may not be quite ready for riding on their own. Riding a jet ski on their own without your supervision is a big responsibility so it’s important to gauge the maturity level of your child to make sure they are ready for the responsibility. There are higher instances of accidents and injuries to younger riders and this may be due to a lack of riding experience and overall maturity. While the state you live in may claim a 13-year-old is old enough to operate a machine capable of high speeds on water, it doesn’t mean your individual 13-year-old is ready for that responsibility. You should also keep in mind that there is more on the water than just your child with a jet ski. There are also other jet skiers, larger boats, and swimmers you could be putting at risk by giving your 13-year-old a responsibility they are not yet mature enough to handle.

Consider Classes

Once you have determined that your child is ready and legally allowed to operate a jet ski on their own, the next step is the actual training. While the basics of how to drive a jet ski can be taught by a parent familiar with this type of vehicle, there are also classes. A class for jet skiing is a great way to ensure your teen has all the building blocks of success. Most courses are only a day long and cover essentials such as operating the ski, what to do in the event of a collision, understanding right of way on the water, and more.

Tips for Safe Riding

Whether your child attends a riding course or you teach them, there are a few main points to cover when it comes to teaching teens safe jet skiing. Even if your child takes a course independently, it’s a good idea to go over these safety reminders with them as a parent to ensure a safe riding experience for all involved.

  1. Never operate jet skis in less than 24 inches or two feet of water.

  2. Pay attention to any objects around you at all times, including docks, loading areas, objects such as rocks under the water, and boats or other watercraft in the area.

  3. Always wear the right safety gear! Wearing proper safety gear such as a life jacket, wetsuit, gloves and eyewear can not only minimize the severity of injuries in the event of a crash, they may also be the barrier between life and death.

  4. Pay attention to safety concerns when getting on/off a jet ski such as the slippery foot boards or dock surfaces. Wearing proper jet skiing shoes with reliable traction helps minimize slips and falls, but your teen should still be careful.

  5. Always use the kill cord and attach it to your life jacket or wrist. This will shut off the motor in the event that a rider is thrown off the ski.

  6. Always make sure you signal to both passengers on the jet ski with you and surrounding jet skiers that you are about to start moving from a stopped position. This will help prevent collisions.

  7. A life jacket should be worn by not just the driver, but also any passengers coming along for the ride.

  8. Give larger vessels the right of way just in case they do not see you.

  9. Always have a safety whistle around your neck or as part of your life vest to signal for assistance in the event of an emergency on the water.

  10. Make sure life jackets are the right size. A life jacket should never be able to life up over the mouth or ears of the person wearing it. You should test this out on your teen’s life jacket before they ever leave for their first ride.

  11. Drinking alcohol and operating a jet ski is a bad idea for several reasons for your underage teen. While you would certainly hope that your 13 to 16-year-old isn’t drinking alcohol in general, it happens often enough that it needs to be on this list and addressed by parents.

  12. Have a spotter on shore if possible. In the event of an accident or emergency, a spotter on land can quickly notice and call for help.

  13. When riding with passengers, make sure the passenger knows when you are getting ready to make a turn or other maneuver which could throw them from the ride.

  14. Always slow down when trying to change directions or make a turn.

  15. Do not perform fun tricks. Most accidents are a result of overly confident riders trying to jump large wakes and then being flipped over.

  16. Follow and obey all posted signs regarding no wake zones, safe distance, and speed limits.

  17. Always check the weather conditions before going out for a ride. You should also monitor the sky throughout the day and head to shore when dark clouds are present.

  18. Keep hands, hair, feet, and any loose clothing away from the pump intake.

  19. Make sure you can always see the shore when riding to avoid going out too far and losing your bearings.

  20. Take your cell phone or radio for emergency communication. Keep it in a dry bag in the storage compartment so you have a way to get in touch with help in the event of an emergency.