Water skiing is a popular pastime in Florida no matter if you live along the coast or in the interior of the state. People flock to the ocean when the weather is nice to enjoy a bit of sun and surf. Water skiing is especially popular this time of year as residents welcome out-of-state loved ones for holiday celebrations. Nothing beats taking someone out for their first ocean experience.
Whether you have been water skiing for years or are giving it a go for the first time, keeping safety tips in mind should be a priority. Boating accidents can be incredibly serious as can accidents involving water skiers and wakeboarders. Use the following tips to help ensure you and your party have a memorable time on the open water for all the right reasons.
There are some simple rules to follow when you are water skiing. Whether you are steering the boat or holding the towline, here are the fundamentals:
- Where a life jacket at all times.
- Someone who is not driving the boat should act as a spotter.
- Inspect the towline before and after each skier.
- Only drop a ski near a dock.
- Stay clear of other boats, skiers and people fishing.
- Follow the local laws concerning boating and water sports.
Safety Tips for the Skier
As a skier, it is your responsibility to make sure you are safe. Stay alert for the things that may be in the water around you: swimmers, objects and rafters especially. Look out for cross-wakes as well.
If you are in or near the water, you should be wearing a personal flotation device that is designed specifically for water skiing. While you may be tempted to wear a ski belt, don’t. These aren’t approved by the Coast Guard and they won’t offer enough protection should you fall or become unconscious.
Safety Tips for the Driver
Believe it or not, if you’ve never towed someone before, it takes practice. Go slowly at first and make sure you understand how your operations will effect the person you are pulling. Don’t make any attempt to show off or scare the person you are pulling. It can be funny to make someone tumble into the water, but it can also be very dangerous. Keep in mind that you are essentially taking responsibility for someone’s life, and behave accordingly.
Should the person you are pulling fall, turn around immediately. Approach the fallen skier slowly and keep them on the driver’s side of the boat so they are always in view. Do not back up your boat to pick the person up. As soon as you near the skier, turn off your engine to eliminate the possibility of the person in the water being injured by a propeller.
If you suspect that the person is injured, don’t pull them into the boat right away. Instead, get in the water with them and support their body. Don’t pull them onto the boat until you can figure out where they are injured. If there is a possibility of head, neck or back trauma, leave them in the water with another person supporting them and call for emergency assistance.
Safety Tips for the Spotter
If you are given the responsibility of acting as the spotter, take it seriously. You are acting as the eyes of both the driver and the skier. Your ultimate responsibility is relaying hand signals from the skier to the driver and allowing the driver to keep their full attention on the water ahead.
Speaking of signals, if you don’t know any, learn them before you grab a towline. The driver and spotter should also know what these signals mean. Signals are important because your shouts won’t be heard over the roar of the engine. With these hand signals, you can alert the spotter and, in turn, the driver, when you are in trouble or when you’ve simply had enough and are ready to come back in.
Water skiing is an incredible sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. The activity can be a great way to show your out-of-state loved ones what living near the ocean is all about. Unfortunately, if you don’t keep safety in mind, your day on the water could end tragically.
If you are involved in a boating accident in West Palm Beach or the surrounding area, reach out to our team of personal injury attorneys. If your accident was the result of someone’s error or negligence or even equipment malfunction, we can help you determine if you may be eligible for compensation. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for a free case evaluation and discover more about your rights. We are here to help you and your family move forward.