Water Skiing is a highly popular competitive and recreational sport in our country that requires all ski schools and clubs offering such services to assure that safety standards are provided to participants. Business owners and ski instructors must observe water safety rules assuring that this sport remains an enjoyable recreational pastime and not a dangerous activity for beach goers.
Both the ski instructor and driver or operator must have the ability to ‘tow’ a skier and must be skilled, knowledgeable and a safe driver.
Motorboat Operators must:
1. Know how to operate and use the motorboat
2. Have an observer and/or assistant on board
3. Be competent in water skiing hand signals
4. Know how to operate the motorboat while towing a skier
5. Recognize the level of the skier so as to adjust speeds as needed
6. Recognize the sea area ones travelling so as to reduce any risks (shallow water, rocky areas, other hazards, etc.)
7. Equip the motorboat with a rear view mirror allowing the operator to view the skier without turning
8. Operate the boat safely away from beach areas, anchored boats, piers, docks, etc.
9. Not travel nor follow directly behind another boat
1. Know how to swim
2. Wear a personal floatation device at all times
3. Observe and follow the trainers or coaches instructions at all times
4. Be competent in water skiing hand signals
5. Not ski beyond his/her capabilities
6. Not ski dangerously
7. Not ski at nighttime hours or times without proper lighting
Thirty Safety Tips Before Your Set out to Water Ski
Water Skiing is a competitive sport and also a recreational pastime that poses potential risks due to the high speeds attained when towing a skier. By following a few basic rules though you increase safety for the skier and yourself.
1. Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
Select a safe, specially designed, soft PFD, properly fitted and free from any objects or attachments that may cause injury during a fall, preferably a life vest. Select a PFD that is approved by an official source such as the US Coast Guard. PFDs provide buoyancy keeping the skier afloat while softening the impact during a fall or collision.
2. Insist on the presence of an ‘observer’
A second individual or observer must be present so as to monitor the skier and relay hand signals to the driver. It is preferable if the observer is trained to perform first aid assistance.
3. Hand Signal Knowledge
Assure that the skier, the driver and the observer all know the different hand signals so as to assure accurate communication between the driver and the skier (ex. change of course, increase or decrease of speed, etc.).
4. When the boat is travelling, the passengers and driver must be seated properly in their seats and not standing nor resting on the rails or leaning on the backs of seats.
5. The driver must accommodate his driving style according to the skiers needs and skills maintaining both direction and speed as requested. Under no circumstances should the driver and skier become competitive. Sudden maneuvers are dangerous and jeopardize the safety of the skier and the boats passengers.
6. The driver must be extremely cautious and maintain safe distances from sea areas designated for other water sports such as swimming, other motorboats, sailboats, divers, etc. Additionally the motorboat should never travel close to the shoreline, near other objects, near ports or near other sea areas used for other types of activities.
7. The skier, after a fall, must quickly signal that all is well by raising both his hands above his head. This gesture signals to the driver and observer that the skier has not been hurt.
8. The skier, after a fall where other boats are travelling, must raise his ski upright and half its length out of the water. This gesture alarms other boaters of his presence.
Safety Tips for Water Skiers (cont.)
9. Always be attentive to water conditions when skiing avoiding any floating objects so as to avoid either structural boat damages or more importantly injuries to the skier. Be aware of minimum water depths, for water skiing the depths required should be a minimum of 1.50m and when skiing barefoot or doing jumps a minimum of 1.50m to 1.80m.
10. Stay clear of other boats. Never travel closely behind another boat with a skier and always try to steer clear away from a boat that is following you too closely. It is all to easy for serious accidents to occur if a skier falls directly in front of another boat following too closely.
11. Always shut down the engine when skier is trying to board the boat. The propeller blades oftentimes can turn even though the engine is in neutral. Accidents can occur if while the engine is running a gear is accidentally engaged.
12. Assure that the towrope is completely stretched, no slack, before you hand signal to ‘take off’. Miscommunication between the skier and driver at take off may cause injuries to the skier.
13. When towing a novice, beginning level skier, both the driver and the operator must be extra careful and cautious, in addition to maintaining low speeds, a maximum of 22mph, depending on the age and weight of the skier. Slow increases in speed, wide-open turns and caution offer a safe and enjoyable ride.
14. Avoid skiing directly onto a floating platform or the shoreline/beach. The safest way to end a ski session is by stopping the skier directly behind the boats wake (between its waves), as the boat is floats parallel/alongside to the floating platform or shore. The skier then simply swims to the boat and climbs aboard.
15. Avoid skiing near floating platforms or other boats or fixed objects in an attempt to spray water on people that may be on them. This type of behavior not only discredits the sport but also increases risks, just by one small miscalculation, of collisions with such objects.
16. Never wrap any part of your body with the towrope or place the handle behind you neck or between your legs or put one hand or foot inside the handle. Serious injuries can occur in all these cases if a fall occurs.
17. Passengers should never pull the towrope with the skier, close to the boat. If a skier has fallen, the towrope or the handle can seriously injury either the skier or the passenger.
18. Replace or repair any problems regarding the towropes, the handles, or the cleats. Any sudden incident, for example a towrope breaking, can cause serious injuries to the skier.
19. Avoid travelling with the towrope floating in the water. It is best to collect the rope into the boat after each ski session. Ropes floating in the water can cause accidents to nearby swimmers or even to passengers on the boat itself.
20. Avoid using very tight bindings on the skis so as to reduce risks of injuries from falls where the skis did not come off. Some newer models, such as high wrap boots, even though they provide an excellent fit and support, they lack the capability to be removed easily in case of a fall.
21. Release mechanisms are required when performing toehold tricks. Without the release mechanism, any fall can cause serious injuries.
22. Cease any boating activities if a storm arises.
23. Improve your fitness level by starting a workout program prior to the start of the summer season. This will help prevent any unexpected surprises and possible minor injuries if your muscles are too ‘rusty’. It’s also best to warm up each time before you set out to ski.
24. Never ski if your tired, you run the risk of injury.
25. Always wear a helmet, specially designed pants and a life vest if you’re doing jumps.
26. Always wear specially designed wet suits with an integrated personal floatation device if you’re skiing barefoot, without skis.
27. If on the boat you are using a bar, extra caution must be taken when turning to pick up a skier, avoiding any abrupt actions. Also, the weight of the bar may alter the boats wake.
28. Wear appropriate wet suits when skiing in very cold condition so as to protect against hypothermia.
29. Skiers can protect themselves from injuries by wearing wetsuits and ski pants.
30. Avoid being towed simultaneously with another skier behind the same boat.