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Summer Water-Ski Safety

| Jul 29, 2011

Boats aren't the only danger on the water. Every year, injuries and deaths occur in water-skiing accidents that could probably have been avoided if the individuals practiced a few safety precautions.

As a Columbia personal injury lawyer , I've heard about tragic accidents on jet skis. I came across these safety tips from a news report and wanted to share them with you.

Always wear your lifejacket

While this seems like it should be a "no brainer," drowning deaths occur each year because water skiers forget or either refuse to wear personal flotation devices. One summer, my friends and I experienced a close call when one of our friends lost consciousness after hitting the water very hard. We were able to find him because his lifejacket kept him afloat. So try to use your head, and before getting in the water to ski, put on your lifevest.

Learn water skiing hand signals

Inexperienced skiers might not know that there are waterskiing hand signals, similar to bicycle and motorcycle hand signals, that can be used while skiing. For example, giving a thumps up or palm facing up signal while motioning upwards means "speed up," and the opposite, thumbs down or palms facing down, means "slow down." There are also signals for speed-turn right, turn left, stop-and also signals for when you are down in the water. Learning these help the water skier communicate with the boat over the loud roar of the engine. The best way to utilize these signals is what brings me to the next point, having a spotter.

Have a designated spotter other than the driver

Too many times I have seen just two people out skiing. One is the driver and the other is the water skier, with nobody designated to be the spotter. Most states require at least two people be aboard the boat while towing a skier-one driver and one spotter-as a state law. Having a spotter to watch the water skier allows the driver of the boat to concentrate on the water in front of and around the boat. The spotter watches the water skier and communicates hand signals to the driver and also can alert the driver when the skier falls.

Check equipment before getting in the water

Be sure that before getting in the water, to check the skis themselves including the boots and also the tow line. Having a ski ripped off while skiing can cause a dangerous wipe-out and a ski floating on the surface of the lake can pose a danger to other boats in the area until it is retrieved. It is also a pain to have to fish out your tow line if it is not properly connected, and might cause harm to others on the boat if it releases while under tension.

Keep to reasonable speeds

Like most people, I have a friend who is not happy unless he is water skiing at speeds that cause his hair to catch on fire and skim across the lake like a skipped rock when he falls. While it was good for a laugh, he usually spends the rest of the day with aches and pains. Play it safe and keep the boat at reasonable speeds. If your friend keeps giving you the "speed up" signal, just tell him that the boat was at the max for a skier. It may not be convincing, but at least he will go home alive.


If you or a loved one has been injured in a boat accident, contact a personal injury attorney in Columbia.
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