Personal Watercraft Safety

At an average length of around 10 feet, personal watercraft (PWC) may seem small, but they come with some pretty big responsibility. With the horsepower of a large outboard engine and the acceleration of a motorcycle. PWC are not toys. The U.S. Coast Guard considers personal watercraft Class A vessels, which means all safety equipment and operation laws that apply to boat under 16 feet also apply to a PWC. Most states have operator age and education requirements, too. So before you launch, here are a few things you’ll need to know to have a safe and hassle-free day on the water.

Required Equipment For A PWC

  • A life jacket for each operating passenger, and person being towed.
  • A Coast Guard-approved B-1 fire extinguisher.
  • An approved sound-signaling device such as a whistle or horn.
  • An emergency engine cutoff lanyard attached to the operator.
  • Proper display of registration numbers, letters and validation decals.
  • Vessel registration, to be displayed when requested.A functioning backfire flame arrestor and passive ventilation system.
Recommended Safety Equipment
  • Hand-held VHF radio, and a cell phone as a backup.
  • A basic first-aid kit, sunscreen, and burn cream.
  • A dewatering device such as a hand operated bilge pump.
  • An anchor and enough anchor line for your area.
  • If pulling a skier or other tow-sport participant, a skier-down flag, and a server over a certain age, and rear–view mirrors may also be required.          Even if they’re not required, they’re good to have.
  • It’s recommended on inland waters you have a suitable, daytime distress signal such as flares, an orange flag, or signal mirror.
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