Nearly all of us have watched someone water ski on a lake or seen the sport being enjoyed during a TV show or movie. When it’s done well, the sport looks extremely easy. However, pulling yourself up on skis while a boat accelerates can take considerable practice and an excellent sense of balance. In general, water skiing is best pursued by adults or older teens who are willing to follow basic safety guidelines.
Every year, Texans enjoy pursuing many types of boating activities like water skiing with jet ski and personal watercraft. After all, we have a lengthy coastline – and more square miles of inland water than any other state. Our residents also own numerous boats. In fact, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says that our state currently has about 580,000 registered boats. This means we rank number six out of 50 states regarding how many boats are regularly maintained and used here.
Since so many of us enjoy water skiing and other boating activities, we must handle these pursuits responsibly. Here are some general safety tips and reminders that should serve us well.
Ways We All Can Help Prevent or Minimize Texas Water Skiing Accidents and Injuries
Boat operators must remain fully sober and stay focused on their driving. No passenger should ever be injured because the boat pilot was secretly drinking or using any mind-altering drugs that can impair judgment or slow down physical reaction times. Boating under the influence is taken very seriously in Texas. Always have a designated, sober driver ready to handle your boat while out water skiing. After all, those pursuing this sporting activity deserve careful navigation – at a reasonable speed;
Good boat drivers must steer their vessels in a straight line whenever possible. It’s never appropriate to zig-zag through the water – unless a sudden change in direction is required to avoid an accident. Boat operators should also discuss the speeds they’ll be using with their water skiers prior to leaving the dock. This type of coordination is critical for both safety and full enjoyment of the sport;
Ask one passenger to act as a “spotter” before your boat leaves the dock. You’ll need this adult to carefully monitor each water skier’s safety at all times. Should a problem develop while the skier is holding onto the tow line and waiting to lift up (or when s/he needs to hurry and drop back down in the water), the spotter can immediately give this information to the boat operator. This can help minimize all potential injuries;
Carefully inspect all towing and safety equipment before pulling out into the water. The boat operator should personally examine all water skis, tubes, boards, and other equipment to be sure it’s in good repair. All unnecessary gear should be left on the dock and locked up. Boat drivers must look closely at all tow lines to be sure they’re not frayed or likely to suddenly snap. Finally, every passenger must wear a properly fastened and approved life jacket;
All tow lines must be kept far away from the boat propellers. Before heading out into the water, tell your water skiers to avoid skiing or dropping into the water close to the boat’s propellers. Serious injuries can occur when people forget this guideline;
Always have at least one extra adult onboard, ready to run the boat should the main pilot or skipper become ill. Also, you should agree on some handle signals with your skiers so they’ll know how to let you know if they’re in crisis – and need to get back into the boat;
When picking a skier up out of the water, steer slowly and carefully – and then turn off the motor. It’s never wise to try and pull a skier out of the water when the boat propellers are still moving about;
Agree ahead of time how long each skier will remain in the water. While it may be fun, waterskiing can easily tire out good athletes. It’s better to pull someone in a bit early than to leave them out so long they have trouble swimming over to the boat once you’ve stopped it.
Should you have some any general questions, you’d like answered out boating in Texas, be sure to visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department website.
Terry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]