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Recent headlines have been filled with stories of jet ski accidents. On July 1, after two successful journeys into space, 50-year old Alan Poindexter died when he was struck by a jet ski in Florida. On July 4, Duke University football player Blair Holliday suffered severe head trauma when he collided with another jet ski. And on July 21, Kyle Glover, the 11-year old stepson of R&B Usher died from the severe brain injury he sustained when he was struck by a jet ski two weeks earlier.
Although most of their stories seldom make the headlines, thousands of other people are injured in jet ski and personal watercraft accidents every year. According to the Coast Guard, a jet ski user is far more likely to be injured than someone in any other kind of boat.
So what can you do to help yourself, your family, and your friends avoid such accidents?
Here are a few basic suggestions:
- Understand how your jet ski or personal watercraft operates. Start by reading the owners manual before you take it out for the first time. New operators are often shocked to find that if they let go of the throttle, their jet ski continues to coast in the direction in which they were heading no matter how hard they try to steer around an obstacle. All too often, this scenario results in a crash.
- Take a safety course. Check out the Massachusetts Online Boating Safety Course at http://www.boat-ed.com/ma/course/ for an online course and a list of other educational opportunities.
- Follow all safety rules and regulations. Here's a sampling: Wear an approved life jacket or personal flotation device (PFD) at all times. Maintain the required 150 feet from swimming beaches. Stay alert to boaters, swimmers or divers in the area. For jet skis or personal watercraft with an ignition safety switch, make sure the lanyard is attached to the operator's wrist or PFD.
- Make sure all operators are of age. Massachusetts requires 16 and 17-year olds to pass a state and National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) approved boating education course.
- Make sure your jet ski or personal watercraft is properly insured. When people take out a loan to purchase a jet ski, the bank requires them to carry insurance. Although it is not required in other cases, having enough of the right type of insurance can be vital to preserving your financial health if you have an accident in which your are found liable for injuries and damages.
I hope that these closing weeks of summer will be filled with fun. And I encourage you, your family and friends to combine that fun with a commitment to safety. If you have questions about how much and what kind of insurance you should have on your jet ski or personal watercraft, I invite you to call Mid-State Insurance at 508.791.5566 to explore your options and our commitment to crafting 'individualized solutions.'