WaveRunner Safety Tips
When the weather gets warmer and summer finally arrives, it’s time to bring the WaveRunner back out! Maybe it’s your first time riding a personal watercraft (PWC), or maybe you’ve had one for years. Whatever the case, there are safety guidelines everyone should follow for a safe ride on the lake or ocean. From riding gear to PWC maintenance, keep these WaveRunner safety tips in mind before and during the ride to keep yourself, your passenger, and other riders safe.
PWC Riding Gear
To set out on the water, you’ll need a few essentials. The first and foremost is a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. This is a crucial addition to your PWC, even if you aren’t necessarily required by law to wear one. When the unthinkable happens, a personal flotation device might save your life. Your clothing should be made of neoprene or similar wetsuit material. Material like cotton flaps in the wind and, when wet, will weigh you down. A quality pair of swimming trunks or swimsuit will be fine. For those cool mornings and midday rainstorms, a windbreaker jacket is also permissible. You’ll need some type of shoes when operating the WaveRunner. This could be sandals, boat shoes, or water socks. In any case, they’ll provide a decent amount of traction needed for handling. Your WaveRunner will come with a lanyard, which should be worn around your wrist at all times. Should you fall off the PWC, the lanyard will detach from the boat and shut the engine off, so it doesn’t drive on without you. A pair of sunglasses with a retainer will keep the sun, spray, insects, and wind out of your eyes to help you maintain complete control while driving the PWC.
Necessary Safety Items
In your cargo areas on the WaveRunner, you can store items that you could need while riding. Some of these include the following:
PWC Registration : By law, this is a must. Before entering the water, double check to ensure your registration numbers, letters, and validation decals are properly displayed on your boat.
Whistle or Air Horn: Keep a whistle on hand so that in the event your voice is drowned out by the water or wind, the high pitch sound of the whistle will help alert others. The same applies for an air horn, which is even louder than a whistle.
Gloves: Having a pair of gloves might seem odd, but they’ll give you the grip you need should a rainstorm suddenly come on and soak your handlebars.
First Aid Kit: You can purchase a first aid kit at any department or drugstore. They’re great to have on hand should you or someone in your group get a cut or scrape. For more serious situations, these kits should also have cold packs and gauze for treating sprained or broken limbs until you’re able to get ashore. Other items to have in the first aid kit include burn cream, bandages, tape, sunscreen, insect spray, and rubbing alcohol.
Dock Line: A dock line is essential on your WaveRunner, as it is necessary to have when securing your PWC to the dockside. If you tow your WaveRunner to and from a lake or beach house, then you may not have as much need for a dock line.
Hand-held VHF Radio: VHF radios are used to communicate with other boats, as well as marina operators. They’re reliable when your cell phone dies or loses signal. In time of emergency, you’ll call out to the Coast Guard for assistance. A hand-held VHF radio is ideal for PWCs, as they’re battery-powered and will function even after the boat’s battery dies.
Daytime Distress Signals: For inland water riding, it’s wise to have a visible signal that others will see immediately. These include signal mirrors, flares, and orange flags.
Preparing for the Ride
Keep an eye on your WaveRunner’s fluids and mechanisms. Before each ride, check your engine oil, spark plugs, steering master, and fuel. For additional maintenance, your WaveRunner comes with a periodic maintenance guide that indicates when you should check certain areas of the PWC according to the hours of operation and time owned.
While the WaveRunner is in Use
This is primarily for beginner riders, but seasoned riders can use these tips as well. Operating a WaveRunner is much like a car – look both ways before turning, don’t follow too close behind another PWC, ensure safe distance between yourself and others, and always pay attention to your surroundings. Note that personal watercrafts cannot be used at night. They aren’t equipped with navigation lights, so riders are more at risk for injury at night.
When you’re ready to stop to swim, place an anchor down. Keep in mind you have enough anchor line for the area you’ll be in.
Even if you are an intermediate or expert rider, safety should always be at the top of your priority list before, during, and after your rides.