Would you leave a child behind the wheel of car with the engine running?
Unfortunately, analysis by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators reveals that over the past 10 years a number of adults have carelessly left children unattended on personal watercraft, which often results in the child starting the engine and taking off, leading to injury, even death.
"Some adults may not realize the risks involved with leaving a young child on an unattended PWC," said Ron Jendro, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks boating enforcement and recreational boating safety administrator.
"The lanyard for the engine cut-off switch is generally left attached to the PWC, making it easy for a child to push the start button and take off on the PWC," Jendro said.
Statistics gathered through the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Accident Report Database show that during the past 10 years, 36 accidents involving young children on PWCs have occurred, causing more than 30 injuries and three fatalities.
"In addition to not leaving a young child unattended on a PWC, adults should remove the lanyard from the engine cut-off switch when a PWC is unattended," Jendro said.
NASBLA also recommends that any passenger on a PWC be able to securely hold on to the person in front of them or to the handholds, and keep both feet on the deck so as to maintain balance during operation.
"Some awareness and common sense can help prevent turning an enjoyable day on the water with family and friends into a tragedy," Jendro said.
FWP is responsible for enforcement of Montana's boating laws. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a non-profit organization comprised of state and territorial recreational boating authorities.