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Rockland Sheriff Offers Tips For Operating Water Scooters Safely

Following safety rules when riding personal water craft will help keep an afternoon of summer fun from turning into a tragedy.
Following safety rules when riding personal water craft will help keep an afternoon of summer fun from turning into a tragedy. Photo Credit: Rockland County Sheriff's Office

With summer unofficially here, many folks are taking their personal water craft out on the Hudson River and lakes in the region.

The Rockland County Sheriff’s Office is offering a few tips for keeping safe while having fun.

Piloting a watercraft is no different than driving a car, says Sheriff Louis Falco III.

The state mandates that anyone operating a water scooter, or PWC, must have completed a personal safety course or otherwise be accompanied by someone 18 or older who has an approved boating safety certificate.

Certificates have to be carried at all times when the craft is being used, Falco said.

The minimum age for using a PWC in New York is 14.

Again anyone operating a PWC must have an approved boating safety certificate or is accompanied by someone over 18 who has one.

Other tips:

  • Small children should never ride in front of an adult.
  • No one should ride a PWC if he or she can’t hold on to the person in front (or hand holds) and can’t keep both feet on the deck in order to maintain balance during operation.
  • Get to know the PWC very well before attempting to ride one alone. Have someone who knows what they’re doing take you out for a ride and show you how to properly operate the vessel.
  • When you’re ready to go it alone, try the PWC out in an area that’s free of traffic, obstructions, and wildlife.
  • Unlike conventional boats, which have propellers and rudders, PWCs have jet pumps and nozzles for propulsion and direction. Once the throttle is released, the operator no longer has control of the direction the PWC is going.
  • Because the craft’s low profile makes it harder for the pilots of larger vessels to see it, wear bright orange life jackets for visibility's sake.
  • Speed is limited to 5 mph within 100 feet of shore, docks, rafts, or anchored boats.
  • PWC need a lot of space. Never operate them in congested areas and give other vessels a “safety buffer."

For the state’s complete boating safety guide, click here.

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