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6 Parasailing Safety Tips

Fiol Law Group|Posted in Safety on August 16, 2019

Parasailing is a popular pastime and tourist activity off of many Florida coasts. Parasailing is a form of parachuting in which a boat tows a parasail and passengers behind it using a rope system. Thousands of people parasail annually without issue; but sometimes, disaster strikes. A parasailing accident could cause significant and fatal personal injuries, from traumatic brain injuries to accidental drowning. Following a few key safety tips could potentially prevent a parasailing tragedy.

Choose the Right Company

Find a parasailing company that properly maintains its equipment, educates its passengers and trains its operators. In all parasailing accidents recorded – with one exception – the cause of the accident has been equipment failure, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Since the NTSB began recording parasailing accident statistics in 2009, eight people have died and five people have sustained serious injuries. Proper equipment maintenance could have prevented most of these parasailing disasters.

Know the Regulations in 2019

Parasailing is a largely unregulated activity. No federal regulations exist, for example, regarding special training or licensure requirements for parasailing operators. Parasailing companies do not have to inspect their equipment or stop operations during bad weather. The Coast Guard has regulations regarding the boats that tow parasails, but not the parasailing equipment. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates parasail flights, but only has a few rules in place.

  • Parasails must obey altitude limits. Parasails and planes that tow banners must use altitude limits to reduce the risk of collisions.

  • Flight regulations under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 101 apply to parasails as they do to kites. They involve operating limitations, notifying the FAA before a flight and lighting requirements.

  • Parasail operators should use due care to avoid midair collisions. Due care includes obeying related safety advisories from the FAA.

Ignoring any parasail-related rules or regulations under federal and state governments could lead to preventable parasailing accidents in Florida. As a passenger, protect yourself from equipment malfunctions by knowing the relevant regulations and finding a company that follows them.

Perform a Visual Inspection

Although the parasailing company is responsible for safety, it is wise to perform a visual inspection of the boat and all parasailing equipment yourself before riding. Do not take the company’s word for the safety of the equipment. Look for signs of wear and tear on the rope, harness and other parasailing equipment. If anything looks unsafe or questionable, find a different company.

Never Parasail in Bad Weather

Take it upon yourself to check the weather before a parasailing excursion. Do not parasail if the forecast predicts high winds, rain, lightning or other inclement weather – even if the parasailing company tells you it is safe to go up. Two teen girls learned this lesson the hard way when a parasailing accident in Panama City, Florida left them with catastrophic injuries. In this case, one of the boat’s crewmembers made a joke about the lightning before sending the girls out in high winds that ultimately contributed to the parasail breaking free from the motorboat and flying high in the air before crashing into several parked cars.

Ask Questions Before Signing a Release Form

It is a parasailing company’s legal responsibility to get participants’ informed consent and signatures on release forms before sending them into the air. It is not enough to simply hand participants the forms and get their signatures; this will not necessarily fulfill the duty of informed consent. The Water Sports Industry Association requires its members to give passengers a five-minute safety video before parasailing. Not all companies in Florida, however, are members. Ask questions and make sure the company gives you all the information about the potential risks of the excursion before giving your permission.

Learn Your Rights

Should you or a loved one get into a parasailing accident, you have the right to discuss your case with a Tampa personal injury attorney. Many different entities could owe you settlements for your damages, including the parasailing company, product manufacturer, tour group and/or hotel where you were staying. A Tampa boating accident lawyer could protect your best interests during an injury claim.