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What makes a safe parasailing experience?

Summer time means weekends down the shore with friends or family trips to the Hamptons. There are lots of fun activities to do while at the beach, and one of them is parasailing high above the azure waters. But before strapping on that harness, first consider the following safety factors.

Remember that you are only as safe as the operator. If he or she is not completely safety conscious, don't even consider parasailing with that operator. A professional operator will always conduct a detailed pre-flight safety briefing that includes a description of potential risks. He or she will teach you some basic hand signals to use while in flight and explain how to prepare and position yourself for a safe landing. Rescue and survival instructions should be addressed as well in the event of an emergency landing.

Parasailers should do a visual inspection of the boat as well as the harness and equipment to make sure they doesn't show signs of weakness from wear and tear. The boat itself should appear well-maintained. The tow rope should never be frayed or spliced together. This is the lifeline that tethers you — make sure it's sturdy.

Weather conditions must be optimum for parasailing. Squalls can develop quickly over water, so never parasail in even a light rain or when you can glimpse approaching thunderclouds. All parasailers should be grounded when wind speeds increase to more than 15 mph. Fog can reduce visibility, so wait until it burns off.

Ask your operator how much experience he or she has towing parasailers and walk away if you don't like the answer. Do you really want to trust your life or the lives of your children to a college student with their first summer job?

Despite all precautions, parasailing is a thrill sport, and parasailing accidents unfortunately do occur. If you or a loved one have been injured while parasailing, you may have a cause of action to file a claim against the operator and the company.

Source: parasail.org, "Consumer Parasail Safety Tips," accessed May. 28, 2015

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