Taking a ride on a jet ski is an exciting, adrenaline fuelled experience. If you can afford to facilitate having a jet ski, then it is perfect for anyone that lives by water or if you are on vacation by a beach or lake.
However, just like with any vehicle, a jet ski can be dangerous when it is not used in the correct manner. Realistically though, are jet skis really that dangerous?
When it comes to water sports accidents and deaths, jet skis make up a large majority of these incidents. Factors that cause these accidents include inattention from the operator, a lack of training, hitting unsafe speeds and insufficient protection from the jet ski itself. Jet ski’s also often ride closer to other boats than regular boaters do to jump wake.
If you are looking to purchase a jet ski, it is important to know what can go wrong so that you can still have an enjoyable experience. Read on to discover the dangers of driving a jet ski and see if there is much risk in purchasing one yourself.
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Flipping the Jet Ski
Despite the newest jet ski’s being big and very stable, it still can be very common to flip one whilst you are riding. Most jet skis even have a sticker telling you what to do if it capsizes which tells you how commonly this can happen. To avoid the event of flipping your jet ski, there are some steps you should follow.
The first tip is to avoid any abrupt movements. This is a very common way to flip your jet ski so you need to ensure you are turning gradually and that you have a good feel for the way the jet ski handles.
Secondly, understanding your abilities is important before you end up flipping your jet ski. Jet ski newcomers will often ride far more aggressively than they can handle, so make sure to keep your speed down before you get too ahead of yourself.
Lastly, it is desperately important to check out for waves. When you are in motion, jet skis tend to be far more balanced than when you are still. In particular, having more people on your jet ski will make you more susceptible to being knocked by turbulent water.
What to Do When You Capsize
If the event of flipping your jet ski does occur, you need to understand the next steps to avoid any damage to the jet ski, passengers and yourself.
- Let go: If you feel the jet ski is about to flip, then the best thing to do is to jump off the jet ski. Holding on to the jet ski or trying to correct the flip can potentially cause more damage to the jet ski and to yourself.
- Turn off the jet ski: If the engine is still running, this can potentially draw water into the vehicle’s air intake. If water enters the crankcase, this can cause damage to the engine which will stop the jet ski from restarting. You can purchase lanyards that will shut down the engine when you get thrown off, so if you do not have one of these, it is definitely worth looking into.
- Flip the jet ski back over: Once you have turned off the jet ski, you can now begin to flip it back over. Do this by getting up on the hull and grabbing the intake grate. Now start to rock the ski back and forth whilst holding on to the sponson on the side which is opposite to the side you would like to go in the water. Following this should flip the jet ski over.
- Start the engine: Once you have got on the jet ski from the back end, start the engine and head back to shore. Most jet ski engines will automatically empty the hull of water as you go but if the engine does not start, you will need to dry out the engine on shore.
- Let the engine run: After drying out the engine, you should let the engine run for about 30 seconds and then place it back in the water. Once in the water, you need to let it run for about 5 minutes and then everything should be back to normal.
Falling Off the Jet Ski
The dangers of falling off your jet ski all depends on the speed you were travelling at and the sort of terrain that surrounds you. Although you cannot alter the circumstances around the incident, there are some tips you can take to lessen the damage of your fall.
The first appropriate measure to take to avoid falling off your jet ski is to ultimately slow down. Travelling too fast will increase the severity of your impact with the water. Ensure that you are driving at a speed that you are comfortable enough to handle. This is particularly important for when you have passengers to ensure they are safe when out riding.
An additional step to take is to avoid rocky terrain and areas of shallow water. Although hitting water off your jet ski will be painful, hitting rocks and the shore will hurt a great deal more.
The most serious of jet ski injuries occur when riders are too close to dangerous objects and surroundings. Ensure when you are out riding that you are in an area that has deep water and that is clear of docks, rocks or any other solid objects.
Using protective gear will also provide great aid when you fall off your jet ski. In most states, it is law to be using a lifejacket so make sure to be wearing one as they are incredibly important. Other examples of protective gear include jet ski shoes for increased grip and a wetsuit to protect you from the water.
Underestimating Stopping Distance
Jet skis are ferocious beasts, they do not stop when you want them to. As they are different from other vehicles, it will take time to get used to how quickly you can go from full throttle to a complete stop. Unlike you would imagine, not all jet skis have brakes so you will have to adjust your riding to accommodate for this.
If your jet ski does have brakes, it would probably be wise to practice braking in an open stretch of water before you get up to top speed. Brakes will differ with all sorts of jet skis, so it would be important to test out the jet ski first before purchasing.
As with any vehicle, there are bound to be injuries. More so with jet skis as you are completely exposed with no outer shell to the vehicle, effectively a motorbike on water.
Due to the speed that jet skis get up to, there are a lot of threats to your eyes. Insects, birds, falling leaves and any other type of debris will cause significant damage to your eyes at high speeds.
Additionally. If you fall off the jet ski, there is the chance of falling on your face so therefore you need protection
Arms and Legs
Arms and legs are very prone to injury whilst riding a jet ski. These commonly happen when you fall off a jet ski but also poor driving can lead to severe limb damage as well. These injuries include broken bones, which if you are going at an increased pace will lead to multiple fractures across your body.
Ligaments and joints can also be damaged if you attempt to drag your leg in the water when you make a sharp turn. To avoid this you should build up your speed slowly and make sure you are driving within your limits.
Head and Neck
The most obvious injury to the head is a concussion from hitting the water too hard. Concussions can also be caused if you clash heads with a passenger if you are driving aggressively.
Neck injuries may occur when you fall off your jet ski as well. This is as a result of your head being forced in different directions upon impact which will cause the neck to twist and turn.
If you are fortunate, you will only suffer muscle pulls but in the most severe of cases there is risk of fractures. Neck fractures are very serious and can cause severe complications in later life.
Final Thoughts: Are Jet Skis Really That Dangerous?
To summarise, jet skis have the capability to be dangerous but isn’t this the same with every vehicle?
As long as you use jet skis in a responsible manner and gradually build your skills up, then jet skis do not have to be dangerous at all.
There are things that can go wrong but there are many steps you can take to avoid these incidents. Purchasing a jet ski which is reliable is also important as you want to feel safe whilst you are out on the water.