Jet skis are a great way to get on the water, but one thing that doesn’t get enough attention is the required jet ski safety equipment.
Some states and countries even require a certain level of safety gear to be in your jet ski at all times.
What you need to carry and what is also a good idea to carry will be covered in this post, along with a few other jet ski tips.
Required Jet Ski Safety Equipment
Here are the top 5 items required by most states to be carried on you at all times when on your jet ski.
- Life Jacket
- Whistle or air horn
- Fire extinguisher
- ID and/or boater safety course card
- Mirrors if you do pull sports
A few states may even require proof of insurance, spare tow-rope, bailer bucket and skier down flag (for tow sports).
There are more safety equipment you should consider when on your jet ski that I want to go over next. Here is the list of all items broken down and explained why you need it.
1. Life Jacket
A life jacket will always be the number one safety item you need for your jet ski.
I don’t care if you’re the best swimmer in the world, you need a life jacket. The life jacket should be on you before you even get on the jet ski.
The life jacket must also be coast guard approved for jet skis!
As someone who’s been hit by a boat and seen what happens to someone who falls off and breaks their tail bone, a life jacket is always a must!
2. Whistle Or Air horn
Another huge item to have when it comes to safety gear on a jet ski is a whistle or sound device.
I tie a whistle to every life jacket I own, and so should you. Keeping one whistle in the glove box of your jet ski won’t help the passenger or the person you’re pulling on the tube if they fall off.
Air horns can be used instead, but a whistle last longer and is more useful in more situations.
3. SOS Siren & Flashlight
Along with a whistle, I’ve been keeping a hand-cranked SOS siren and flashlight in my jet ski.
Air horns wear out and if you’re out of breath a whistle is hard to blow. Having a device that has a battery and can be recharged manually is a must for getting someone’s attention while on the water.
Along with them having a built-in flashlight, it just makes sense to carry.
4. Your Phone
As someone who is getting lost all the time on the lake, my phone is the best thing ever.
On your phone you can pre-load maps, like around where you ride your jet ski, and use your phone’s GPS to navigate around. The maps are made for cars, but put the address of where you want to go and head towards that blue dot, and you’ll get to where you need to be.
You can also get maps that support your local lakes and such, but they often come with a fee.
Other safety features your phone can be used for:
- Can use the built-in compass.
- Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other pay options if you lose your wallet.
- Use an app to turn your phone screen into an SOS light.
- Use the camera app as binoculars to zoom into things.
- Calling emergency services.
5. Fire Extinguisher
Every jet ski by law needs to have a fire extinguisher on board and must be in good working order.
When you get pulled over on a jet ski, one of the first things a cop is going to want to see is where is your fire extinguisher. They want to make sure you not only have one, but you know where it’s located. Some even make you test it to make sure it works.
You will get a ticket if you don’t have a fire extinguisher on your jet ski.
Most dealerships give you a fire extinguisher when you buy a jet ski, but make sure to get one if they don’t.
Also, fire extinguishers for jet skis don’t last forever. If it’s over 12 years old (the date is stamped on them) go ahead and get a new one. For me, 12 years is too long, and I’ve seen these things go bad way sooner, I suggest replacing them every 5 to 6 years.
One more thing, make sure your fire extinguisher doesn’t have a recall on it.
6. Extra Water
It’s easy to get dehydrated when on your jet ski for a long period of time, so carrying an extra water bottle is key.
That sun and heat will make fools of us all, so make sure to stay hydrated when playing. The lake water and ocean water is not safe to drink, and just because you’re getting splashed does not mean you’re staying hydrated.
7. Safety Lanyard For Jet Skis
A safety lanyard is a cord that attaches you to the jet ski, so when you fall off, the jet ski engine will shut off.
It’s important you have the safety lanyard attached to you and your jet ski, a jet ski won’t start if you don’t connect it properly.
Sea-Doo uses their keys as the safety lanyard, while Yamaha and Kawasaki use a simple plastic clip that pushes up a button and the other end attaches to your wrist.
Do jet skis shut off or turn around if you fall off?
If the safety lanyard is connected to you and the jet ski, and you fall off, the jet ski will shut off.
A jet ski will not spin in a circle if you fall off, it should shut off because the safety lanyard is removed when you fall off, assuming it was connected to you.
There is no guarantee a jet ski will spin in a circle if you fall off, and it’s still running. It’s critical you properly connect the safety lanyard to you and your jet ski.
8. Telescoping Paddle
A telescoping paddle is one of those safety gear that you may never need, but when you need it, you really need it.
A telescoping paddle folds up nice and neat into your jet ski, so it’s out of the way. Then when you need it, unfold it and kayak your way back to shore.
The paddle can not only be used to get you back to land if your jet ski stops working, but used as a tool to extend to someone who is in the water and having a hard time getting to you.
9. Tow Boating Membership
Not many people know this, but there are services across the world that will tow your boat or jet ski to where you need it if you break down.
These towing memberships also do more, for example running out of gas in the middle of the lake, they will come to you and bring you gas. Some even offer boat recovery if it sinks.
Even if you don’t get a tow boat membership, at least keep their number taped to your jet ski storage compartment. They’ll come for anyone, but they charge more to people who don’t have a membership, and maybe worth it if it’s your last resort.
10. Boater Safety Course
A boater safety course has become the norm for most states, especially when it comes to jet skis.
For example, in my state of North Carolina, anyone born on or after January 1, 1988, must take the boaters safety course. Some states are moving to requiring everyone to take the course.
The course is done online and is full of great information that everyone operating a boat should know.
Go here to learn about what you need to do to get your boater safety license: https://www.boat-ed.com/
11. Multi-Tool With Knife
Having a knife has been of the most useful tools to carry on your jet ski. With cutting ropes, fishing lines, and anything else that gets stuck, a knife can get you out of a tight spot.
While a knife is needed, I like carrying a multi-tool that has a knife*.
With a multi-tool you have pliers, screwdriver and more. They also don’t take up much space, which is needed for a jet ski.
12. First Aid Kit
When it comes to safety gear for a jet ski, a first aid kit is a must.
No need to get too fancy, a small safety kit* is all you need.
There have been a few times I’ve cut my foot on a rock or stick before and the first aid kit came in handy.
13. Protective Gear
We can’t talk about safety equipment for PWCs without cover the protective gear you must have on.
- Water shoes
- Rash guard
- Neoprene shorts (for both men and women)
The water shoes are a must as the boat ramps are slippery and the rocks and sticks are sharp.
The rash guard protects you from the sun, cuts down on the life jacket rubbing on your skin, and keeps you cool.
The neoprene shorts keeps… well… water from going into your body if you fall off. There are warning stickers all over your jet ski warning you about this, here is the backstory.
The hat and sunglasses are to keep the sun off you, along with the sunscreen.
14. Jet Ski Mirrors
Not every jet ski comes with mirrors, and some states require them if you do any pull sports.
If your jet ski doesn’t have mirrors, it’s a good safety item to add.
15. Skier Down Flag
A skier down flag is an orange flag you put up when the person you’re pulling falls off. The skier down flag lets others know someone is in the water.
Even jet skis must use a skier down flag for pull sports to warn others that someone has fallen into the water.
16. Off Shore Riding
If you do any offshore riding, there is certain safety gear you need to carry on your jet ski.
- Marine Radio*
- Electronic Flares*
- SOS distress flag*
- SOS Personal Locator*
- Extra water
- Emergency Mylar Blanket* to keep the sun off you and as a reflective aid to make you more visible.
Since jet skis are under 16 feet long, they don’t require the SOS distress flag, but it’s still a good idea to have one, jet skis do require the nighttime distress signals (electronic flares).
Extra caution and care must be given if you venture far from the coastline or any large body of water. It’s easy to get lost and confuse yourself with what is the correct direction.