Be careful when water skiing and wake boarding this summer

Written by Dr. David Geier, The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) 

With the heat and humidity on the rise this summer, many people turn to water skiing and wake boarding for recreation. These activities provide both fun and physical activity.

As participants travel at high speeds during these water activities, the risk for injuries is certainly an issue. Since it is impossible to know just how many people participate in these popular lake and river sports, it is hard to determine the exact rate of injury. Regardless, taking a few simple steps can help you decrease your chance of suffering a serious injury while water skiing or wake boarding.

  • Always ensure there are two people in the boat. One must be the driver, and another person can serve as a spotter for the person water skiing or wake boarding. The driver should be able to watch where he is driving at all times without also watching the person he or she is pulling.
  •  Always check the towline before starting to make sure it is not caught in the propeller. Also, ensure that the line is not wrapped around the skier. The driver should not accelerate until the skier or wake boarder is holding the handle and gives a signal to begin.
  • As a skier or wake boarder, remember a few points when you fall or decide to quit:
    1. Immediately let go of the tow rope when you fall.
    2. Make sure the propeller of the boat has stopped before you get into the boat.
  • Always wear an approved life jacket. To minimize the risk of head injuries, wear a safety helmet when wake boarding.
  • Don’t forget the sunscreen.
  •  Only ski and wake board during the daytime. Visibility of objects in the water is critical at all times. It can be difficult to see any hazards in the water in dark conditions.
  • Always pay attention to the conditions. If you hear thunder or see lightning, stop water skiing and wake boarding immediately.
  • Don’t water ski or wake board in restricted areas
  • Refrain from drinking alcohol while driving the boat, water skiing or wake boarding.

While you can’t prevent every injury on the water, these steps might help you decrease your risk for the most serious injuries when water skiing and wake boarding.

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Hitting the lake for some water sports? @AOSSM_sportsmed gives safety tips on the Be Active Your Way blog. #beactive