To many, Florida is considered the boating capital of the United States because of its thousand miles of shoreline and picturesque inland waterways. In Florida, thousands of people take to the water daily on their personal water craft (also known as Jet skis, SeaDoos or WaveRunners), along with thousands of conventional boat operators. However, personal watercraft, although exciting, can cause serious and life-changing injuries if operated by those lacking experience and common sense. In Florida, there are more than 120,000 registered personal watercraft. Operators as young as 14 years old can legally operate a personal watercraft in Florida.
A personal watercraft operates like a motorcycle in many respects, but also dissimilar in many ways. Personal watercraft (“PWC”) are small, easy to maneuver and extremely fast, many models capable of reaching speeds of 65 mph. Many believe that they are simple and easy to operate. Personal watercraft, although operated on the water, are just as dangerous as motorcycles when not operated safely.
In a study conducted by the University of Florida, PWC accidents have been found to cause far greater injuries than accidents involving boats. Case in point, the recent personal watercraft accident of hip-hop singer, Sean Kingston, who crashed into a Miami, Florida bridge with a female passenger. The U.F. study found out that riders involved in Waverunner and Jetski accidents sustain more closed-head injuries, spinal injuries and more chest and abdomen injuries than boat passengers involved in accidents.
Most PWC injuries are caused when an operator or passenger is thrown off the vessel at high speeds. PWC’s cause more injuries because of the absence of seat-belts that can hold down the rider. When riders meet an accident on the water, they are usually ejected from the PWC and run the risk of colliding with the next stationary object, whether it is the water, a bridge as in the Sean Kingston accident or another vessel.
PWC operators and passengers alike also suffer from orifice injuries. Orifice injuries occur when the rider of a personal watercraft falls off the rear of the vessel and lands in the path of the personal watercraft’s extreme high pressure jet of water, which propels the personal watercraft. When an operator, or a passenger, is ejected from the vessel and lands in the path of the jet, the force, or thrust of water, is so strong that it pushes a large amount of water into the riders orifices, such as a woman’s vagina or anus. The extremely high-pressure jet thrust can cause severe mutilating and disfiguring injuries, or even death.
In order to avoid accidents such serious injuries when operating a PWC, or when a passenger, here are some important tips to remember:
1. You should read the owner’s manual so that you understand the control system and the features of the vehicles.
2. Before operating a PWC, enroll in a personal watercraft safety course.
3. Try to gain on-the-water experience with your PWC in an area free from other PWCs and boats.
4. Wear suitable safety equipment, such as a lifejacket, whistle, and cellular phone in a waterproof bag. Operators and passengers alike should wear wet suits to avoid, or lessen, orifice injuries.
5. You should never try to operate the vehicle without the engine-cut off lanyard attached to your body, which will cut off the engine if you should fall off.
6. Maintain a safe distance between you and other vessels. Remember that a PWC takes more than 300 feet to go from 60 mph to stop. Also, remember that you lose steering capability if you let off the throttle. Keep a sharp lookout for other boats and PWC’s in your area. You should also familiarize yourself with the body of water you are, to avoid rocks, mangroves, sandbars, weeds, etc.