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7 Tips For Riding a Jet Ski With a Child [Video]
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“How can I ride a jet ski with a child?” – This is a typical question jet ski-riding parents ask.
It’s a well-known fact that kids (especially boys) go crazy for jet skis, and they can nag the adults all day. If you have children too, you probably want to know when to allow them to come with you for a ride. Beyond the legal age limits, you may also want to know what the risks are for riding a jet ski with kids.
Riding together can be tons of fun for all, but as always, safety is the most important consideration on the water. This means you have to be prepared in advance to stay safe and legal. We, at JetDrift, have done the research and gathered the most important tips for riding a jet ski with a child.
7 Tips For Riding a Jet Ski With a Child
1. Don’t Overlook the Age Limits on a Jet Ski
When it comes to age limits on a jet ski, there are a lot of rumors and misunderstandings. To make it more clear, we’ve briefly summarized the most important rules and regulations.
– Currently, in most states, there is no official age limit for passengers on a jet ski. However, as you’ll see, the size of a child’s body matters.
– When it comes to the minimum age to drive a jet ski, it not only differs from state to state, but it also depends on some additional circumstances. Generally, the age limit to drive a jet ski alone ranges from 14 to 18 years, but for further details, please don’t miss our latest post on the topic.
– In most states, jet ski drivers have to pass the boating safety course, especially if they’re young.
– Be aware that even if your state allows your very young children to drive a jet ski alone, it may not necessarily be a good idea.
Jet skis can be really dangerous, especially if the operator is too reckless or inexperienced. And let’s face it, children tend to make irresponsible decisions and they often don’t have enough experience.
That’s why every manufacturer recommends adult onboard supervision if the jet ski is operated by a child. (Which is also required by the law in some states.) So never overlook the applicable regulations, and think twice before you let your children drive a jet ski, especially if they’re younger!
2. Size Also Matters
“Can a toddler ride a jet ski?” – This is a question asked by many impatient parents, who want to take their kids for a jet ski ride as soon as possible.
Even though a toddler can ride on a jet ski, manufacturers don’t recommend it due to safety reasons. Moreover, the U.S. Coast Guard also has its recommendation for the minimum weight for passengers on a jet ski or boat.
If you open any jet ski’s owner’s manual, you can find recommendations for the passengers’ minimum height. According to the manufacturers, every passenger must be able to place both of their feet on the floor of the footwells. This is the only way to sit properly and securely on the seat!
Let’s face it; toddlers are not tall enough and their feet do not reach the footwell. Thismeans there is a much higher risk of falling off the seat (or bouncing in the seat on choppy water), which means jet skiing is not safe for a toddler! Additionally, U.S. Coast Guard recommends your kids should be at least 18 pounds to ride on a jet ski safely. Nevertheless, you can see parents who take their 2-3-year-old on jet ski rides.
Of course, jet ski rides can vary as your childrens’ safety depends on several factors like your speed, weather conditions and many others. Let’s take a closer look at these factors as well!
3. Take it Slow if You Ride a Jet Ski With Children
If you decide to take your children for a ride, you should always be mindful that they’re on board. This means you have to moderate your speed and avoid sharp turns, tricks and stunts. You have to operate the craft slowly and carefully at any time.
If you only consider buying your jet ski for your family, it’s best if you stick to the non-supercharged cruisers. These large and stable models are considered to the best family jet skis on the market. Unless you’re a speed-junkie, it’s recommended you avoid the supercharged models, especially with the more flexible racing-inspired hulls.
Before you start to ride your jet ski with children, it’s highly recommended you turn on the “ECO” or another speed-control mode which cuts the jet ski’s performance, or just use the slow key if it comes with your ski. If you decide to jet skiing with a toddler (which is not recommended!), the best practice is to stay close to the dock. You also shouldn’t go faster than the no-wake speed, which means a maximum of 5 mph.
If you just make a small spin around the dock with this speed, it obviously means fewer risks than going out to open water. If you’re riding your jet ski with older children, you can certainly look at faster speeds, but never overlook the children’s limits. Even the “minimal planning speed” could scare many children, especially if they’re not familiar with powersports, or just simply shy. Be aware that jet skis can be dangerous in many ways, so be extra careful if you ride with small children. Moreover, you should never ignore the jet ski’s seating capacity!
4. Check the Weather Upfront
Always double-check the weather in advance if you ride a jet ski with children. Operating a jet ski in harsh weather is always more dangerous, and needs more practice and physical effort.
Even a mildly choppy surface can make your rides harder, depending on the jet ski model you ride. That’s why you have to stick to calm waterways, flat water and nice weather. It doesn’t just just mean more fun in the sun, but greatly reduces risk at the same time. What’s more, taking advantage of the good weather, you can beach, which is always welcomed by children!
5. Where to Place the Kids On a Jet Ski?
If you want to take children for a jet ski ride, you may wonder which is the best place for them. Several sources claim incorrectly that under a certain height (or age), the best practice is if the child is sitting upfront:
Contrary to popular belief, it is highly recommended to not place children in front of the driver on a jet ski! At first, it looks safe and secure, but it can be dangerous in many ways!
On one hand, if you drive the jet ski and your child sits in front of you, this means his head is really close to the handlebar. If you slow down the craft suddenly, or in the case of a collision, there is a high risk he’ll hit his head on the handlebar. Moreover, if your child is taller, he can limit your vision, just like an adult passenger.
So as a rule of thumb, never place passengers in front of the jet ski’s operator. Children usually want to ride a jet ski in front to feel the wind and waves, but don’t let them! Safety is always the most important factor on the water.
You may wonder what the best practice is to place your children on a jet ski. Regardless of their age, the safest way is if they sit behind the jet ski operator. If you have a small child, the best you can do is to place the kid in the middle between two adult riders. This is a great way, as the driver should focus on driving, while the adult passenger can supervise the child. But don’t forget, you have to operate the jet ski carefully and slowly, even in this case.
6. Safety Gear You’ll Need
When it comes to safety gear on a jet ski, the most important gear is always the life jacket. Every jet ski rider has to wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets, and children are no exception.
Additionally, this organization recommends you don’t take your children on a jet ski ride if their weight is less than 18 pounds. Regarding the sizes of life jackets, it’s always essential to choose models that fit your children properly, but are also comfortable. Otherwise, they’ll want to take it off immediately!
For young children (under 50 pounds) the most appropriate models are the Type II life jackets. On these units, you can find a pillow behind the head which keeps the child’s face upright which results in more safety.
These life jackets also feature a handle that can be used as a rescue device in emergency situations to tow the kid safely. Also, keep in mind that children should have their life jackets even before you launch your jet ski, and don’t forget to keep the other requiered safety gear onboard.
7. Be Prepared for Emergencies
Preparing is always essential, especially if you ride a jet ski with children. Make sure that you’re familiar with your jet ski and get some practice before starting to ride with passengers.
It’s also wise to learn what to do if they (or even you) fall into the water, i.e., learning how to flip a jet ski once it’s capsized. Although you can ride a jet ski without swimming skills, it’s highly recommended that you learn to swim confidently, especially if you want to take others for a ride.
If you ride with a small child, as we’ve mentioned, it’s best if there is another adult rider onboard for safety reasons. If you drive the jet ski, you should focus on the operation and the environment, while the other adult can supervise the child. If the child accidentally falls into the water, let your partner handle the situation while you stay onboard and stop the engine.
If you’re considering doing watersports with your children, it’s also recommended you learn the basics of how to ride a wakeboard or even a tube behind a jet ski. Also, it has to be mentioned that you should avoid jet skiing if you are pregnant.
Conclusion – How to Ride a Jet Ski With a Child
“Can kids ride jet skis?” – The good news is yes, kids can ride jet skis as passengers, but they are allowed to operate a jet ski legally only above a certain age. When it comes to riding a jet ski with children, preparation is always important. First things first, get some practice in jet skiing and be sure that you can operate your ski securely. You also have to be prepared for emergency situations.
That’s why you have to keep the necessary safety accessories onboard and every rider has to wear U.S.C.G.-approved life jackets. Although there’s no minimum age limit for passengers on a jet ski in most states, you shouldn’t overlook the manufacturers’ and the Coast Guard’s recommendations for minimum height and weight for children.
If your children want to drive the jet ski, be careful, as the age limit varies from state to state. Moreover, jet ski operators have to obtain a jet ski license (boating safety card) in many states, especially if they are minors.
To stay safe and legal, always check the local laws and regulations before you and your kids hit the water. When it comes to placing children on a jet ski, the most important condition is to never allow them to sit in front of the driver! Just like in the case of adult passengers, kids have to sit on the rear seats regardless of age. If you ride with a really small child, the best practice is if you place him/her between two adult riders.
And finally, don’t forget to check the weather forecast upfront and always operate the jet ski slowly and carefully. As always, kids’ safety is paramount on the water!
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