If you live near a lake, you know how much fun waterskiing can be for the entire family. However, just like any other water sport, there are dangers you should know about and be prepared for in order to prevent accidents from happening.
First of all, give your children a thorough education in water safety. Many of us go skiing all the time, but don’t even know the rules of water safety ourselves.
1. Life jackets are never optional. Have a no-jacket, no-ski policy. If mom and dad and even reckless Uncle Bob are compliant with this rule, the kids will know they have to be, too. Jackets should always fit well.
2. Put an orange flag on your boat. This is an official sign to other boaters that you have a skiier behind you somewhere.
3. The driver should have a mirror on their boat so that if they need to, they can see the skiier behind them. In addition to a mirror, there should always another person on the boat besides the driver. The driver is not supposed to be the one watching the skiier; they are supposed to be focused on driving. It is the job of the second person to watch the skiier and tell the driver if there are problems.
4. Before beginning, the driver should assess any potential dangers in the water. A driver should know exactly where bouys, pilons, other boats and any other potential obstacles are at all times. They should also make sure that they are not getting too close to swimmers, other boats, or the shore. Since a driver cannot turn suddenly with a skiier in tow, they may have to slowly cut the engine in emergency situations in order to avoid a danger up ahead.
5. Don’t go out when there are too many other boats. Each boat needs to have its own 200-foot wide “ski corridor,” and will need to have a 2,000-3,000 foot long ski area.
6. Never ski at night. No matter how much fun you are having, don’t keep skiing if the sun has already gone down. Visibility gradually diminishes, increasing the risk of accident. Skiing is actually legally prohibited if it is over a half an hour before sunrise or after sunset.
7. Don’t go waterskiing when visibility is bad, whether it be due to light rain, smog, or any other cause. Also avoid choppy water.
8. Learn basic communication signs. If you are the waterskiier, and you go down, there are several signals you can make to the driver of the boat. Putting both hands behind your head means that you are okay. A salute type hand signal from the head means that you want to go back to the dock. A thumbs up means speed up, thumbs down means slow down. A flat, open hand (like if you were to say ‘halt!’) means stop. Also, when you are the skiier and you go down, you should hold up one ski so that other boats can see you.