Watercraft Safety

Now that we’ve hit July, I think we can safely say that summer is here and we’re happy to be out on the water! New riders and seasoned riders alike may not be aware of all the regulations in New York State regarding personal watercraft usage. It is required that each rider (whether driver or passenger) wears a life jacket. The PWC must have:

  • an engine cut-off lanyard,
  • a sound producing device (like a whistle),
  • a visual distress signal (like a safety flag), and
  • a fire extinguisher (on waters under the US Coast Guard jurisdiction.)

It is recommended, though not required, that each rider has footwear, eyewear (goggles or sunglasses), a wet suit, and gloves.

In New York, it is required that all owners and operators successfully complete a boating safety course and operators must be at least 14 years old. Operation is, of course, not allowed between sunset and sunrise. Neither is weaving through congested traffic, jumping the wake of another watercraft, playing chicken, or using your vehicle within 500 feet of a bathing beach or swim area. If you happen to be renting a personal watercraft, you must be at least 16 years old and prove it with photo ID. You must also be able to show correct operating procedures, proper use of the safety equipment, and must have proof of completion of the boating safety course.

Some best practices when out on the water include not operating too close to shore, docks, marinas, fisherman, or launching areas, not disturbing wildlife or operating in environmentally sensitive areas, and not forcing larger watercraft like boats or shipping vessels to move unnecessarily. If you have a passenger on the back of your PWC, practice a little extra caution as they can lose their grip on you, fall off (or be ejected), and get injured.

Once you have all these practices and measures in place, you’re set to get out on the water!

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