This is a real question that gets asked a lot at trade shows and by casual observers. We are direct in our answer, no sugar coating . It is a sport in water in a variety of uncontrolled marine environments using gasoline powered jet ski pumps, it has risks as all water sports. You can lessen the risks with training, proper care of equipment, and monitoring your environment. The risks can never be reduced to zero, be patient and careful with your progression in the sport, from your first day, to your practicing for an open competition. If you are looking for a zero risk activity, you will want to look elsewhere.
The most obvious danger of any water based sport is, of course, drowning. Using a proper Personal Floatation Device (PFD) is mandatory for all participants in hydro flight sports. Just as having confidence in your ability to stay afloat is the best remedy for falling off a kayak or surfboard, hydro flight participants will spend time in water floating and waiting to fly. Properly built hydro devices such as the Jetblade and the X-Jetpack have additional floatation built in to assist. However relaxing and confidence in the water prevents panic. Taking swimming lessons is an easy confidence-builder for anyone who will be out in open water.
Although the speeds involved in hydro flight are less than those in recreational personal watercraft usage, logic tells us that hydro flight participants can be at higher risk of head trauma than some other water enthusiasts. Height, obstacles, objects under water and falling or colliding with the jet ski are the immediate risks. Wearing a water sports helmet can help reduce the impact of these collisions, but nothing substitutes for proper training and a good throttleman. Knowing the topography of where they’re playing and practicing good technique will keep most of them safe.
Another universal danger in all ocean sports is trauma from marine life such as coral and jellyfish. Don’t touch any marine life or coral; be aware of your surroundings at all times. Common sense rules.
Here are some universal water sports guidelines:
TEN TIPS FOR SAFETY…..
1. You should know how to swim if you want to fully enjoy water sports. If you are not a good swimmer, take swimming lessons to learn basic swimming skills. Learning to swim is extremely important for children, who tend to learn quicker than adults. Children who learn to swim at a young age are less likely to fear the water, which allows them to participate in many types of water activities. The YMCA has been teaching people to swim for more than 100 years. You can check out their website (www.ymca.net/programs/programs_for_aquatics)for more information.2. Children can be fearless when it comes to being in the water. They have very little concern for their own safety, or the safety of others. All children who are playing or taking part in water sports activities must bysupervised by adults, at all times. Young children have a higher risk of drowning, so never leave children alone near or in the water. Assign an individual to keep an eye on children the entire time they are near the water, and, if possible, have a second adult help out as well.3. Wear a life jacket ( i.e., personal flotation device) even if you are a great swimmer. If you fall or become incapacited in the water, a life jacket will keep you afloat until help arrives. Even in a boat, riders should be wearing life jackets. The latest statistics indicate that more than half of boating-related deaths in recent years were due to drowning, and may have been avoided if the victims had been wearing life jackets. Make sure that the life jacket fits properly and is Coast Guard-approved.4. Never go out swimming, diving alone. Even though you may enjoy this time alone, it can be very dangerous. Make sure you have someone with you at all times when you are in or on the water. It doesn’t matter whether you are swimming or boating or fishing; never risk getting out alone in the water.5. Carry extra safety supplies and equipment with you when you are boating. These can include extra life jackets, a mobile phone, first aid kit, equipment manual and tools, bottles of water and towels. Ensure you and your passengers are aware of these items and know how to use them properly. Be sure the supplies and equipment are accessible, yet stored safely and securely.6. Let people know where you are going. You don’t have to formally file a float plan, but you should still complete the information and give it to someone staying on shore. In the event you do not return as scheduled, this information will be the starting point for locating you and providing assistance as needed. Many things can go wrong when you are out on the water, from physical issues to mechanical problems, so be pro-active and plan your activity in advance; then follow that plan. An example of a float plan is provided here.7. Watch the Weather. You should always be aware of the current and forecast weather conditions during the time you plan to be on the water. This includes the water and sea conditions also. Avoid planning water activities if the weather forecast predicts rain or storms or high seas/rough water. If you do get caught in bad weather, get everybody out of the water, in the boat, and head for shore immediately.8. When boating, follow the rules of the lake, or river, or sea: stay in navigable waters, monitor your wakes, maintain plenty of distance between other boats, and have someone looking out for people in the water – a “spotter.” If you have water skiers, or boat tubes that people will be riding on, like a big towable tube, go over the hand signs so skiers and riders know how to communicate with the boat: Okay (thumb and tip of index finger together); Faster (thumbs up); Slower (thumbs down); Stop (hand slashing across neck); Go Back to the dock or shore (pat head). Even though kids can yell loud, don’t expect to hear them over the roar of the boat engine.9. During spring and summer, you will be exposed to harmful rays from the sun most of the time you are on the boat or playing in the water. To protect your skin, and stay hydrated, be sure to wear sunscreen, and drink plenty of water. Reapply sunscreen after being in the water, and as often as recommended. It’s great to have that healthy, suntan look – just get that look gradually, and protect your skin to avoid sunburns.You should also wear good sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare from the sun, and a hat to protect your head and shield your face. You may even want to wear long sleeve sun shirts, which is an even better idea for children.10. While you need to stay hydrated, you should avoid drinking anything alcoholic, before and during any boating or water sport activity. Boating and drinking just do not mix. You are responsible for those with you, and in or around the water, and need to be able to react quickly and appropriately if a dangerous situation should occur. More than half of boating accidents involve alcohol, so stay safe, and stay sober!
… from Jane Warren at Discover Boating