There are two kinds of water sports enthusiasts worldwide; ones who enjoy swimming in calm waters on a relaxing day. And, then, there’s the thrill-seeking kind, the ones who turn to the sea waves and fast-flowing river streams as venues to practice extreme water sports.
This article is for those fearless water sports fanatics who dare to conquer the waters with their physical strength, endurance, courage, and many years of training.
Water sports such as cavern diving, rafting, wakeboarding, and surfing, among many others, are prone to numerous water-related fatalities. Drowning is perhaps the most common watercraft accident due to an unrealistic idea of swimming ability, crowded waterways, lack of safety procedures, and first aid.
To practice water sports safely, here are four safety tips to consider for your next water adventure.
What’s the Weather Like?
One of the primary concerns for anyone going out in the water should be the weather condition and water temperature. Remember that it is an essential factor, as weather conditions may change rapidly.
Weather plays a big role, as the participant’s performance can reduce or improve depending on certain weather conditions, such as the wind and surface of the water. Another safety measure is to look up the weather forecast in your desired venue and dress accordingly.
For example, if you plan to remain in cold water for a prolonged time, you should wear a dry or wet suit to help you stay warm and enjoy your time in the water, despite the temperature. In case it’s too cold or harsh, it’s best to skip it and postpone your plans to a good day when the water state is settled. Besides, most outdoor sports are affected by weather conditions; if the temperature is too high, it can cause heat cramps and heatstrokes, while low temperatures can result in hypothermia.
During warmer weather, it’s advised to wear long-sleeved UV protective shirts to prevent sun strokes or getting sunburnt. Additionally, keep track of tides and waves rolling in. When there’s limited visibility in the waters, especially during harsh outdoor environments, carrying a fenix headlight has been proven to act as a practical flashlight for watersports that requires keeping your hands free.
Life Jacket or Personal Flotation Devices Are Mandatory
Alert: Do not participate in any water sport if you identify as a nonswimmer without supervision and a life jacket.
Find out about life jacket laws at the water location, not only for safety concerns but to avoid violations. In the U.S., children under 13 must wear a life jacket on a moving boat. As an additional safety precaution, you should always let your coast guard know if you have any concerns or fears before venturing out on the water.
Extreme water sports demand physical strength. When you’re in the water, even with years of experience, and advanced skills, you can still face physical exhaustion, increasing the risk of drowning. This is why all water sports encourage using a life jacket, albeit being strong swimmers.
Despite your skills, age, and swimming abilities, you should always remember to wear a life jacket for any water-related activities. Make sure the life jackets are fastened securely with all the zippers and straps attached properly.
Do Not Overestimate Your Skill Levels
The third safety tip is to select an appropriate paddling location that matches your skill levels, abilities, and recreational intentions. Many water sports enthusiasts overestimate what they can do and often end up unsettled in the water. For instance, swimming in the Amazon river requires you as an intermediate or advanced swimmer. The best way to choose locations is to assess your skill level accurately and honestly.
All sports have some elements of risks, and respecting your physical limitations is what keeps you safe. Water sports like water skiing, surfing, and paddle boarding demand physical strength and focus. Although you may want to simply get into it, you must consider your physical limitations.
Remember that not everyone has the same level of strength to succeed at extreme water sports, although not impossible. You can build up your strength gradually to improve your performance and overall experience. As your skill levels develop over time, you can gain more momentum, upgrading into fast-flowing waterways and offshores.
There are danger factors surrounding kayaking or canoeing. It may be threatening if any paddler attempts to paddle on a surging river or sea that’s too challenging for their abilities. Here’s a tip, if your canoe ever falls over, do not panic. Try to stay behind it, steer it towards the shore, and keep moving slowly. Make sure you wear a life jacket and follow basic water safety rules.
Hydration and First Aid
This final tip contains smaller tips to make a well-rounded safety tip for everyone entertaining the idea of water-related activities. First and foremost, before beginning any physical activity on land or water, one should ensure they are hydrated and carry extra bottles for hydration at the location. It’s also not a bad idea to take a couple of energy bars, just in case.
Another critical element many often neglect is checking up on their health on that particular day. You should ensure you feel 100% before going ahead with your plans.
Do not consume any alcohol-based drinks before going out in the water. It may seem like a relaxing option, but after a few drinks, you’ll find it challenging to safely find your way back to the shores. Alcohol also triggers panic, which may disrupt your focus and calmness.
Lastly, always be equipped with a first aid kit for yourself or anyone who might need it during accidents. First aid tools provide an easy fix for most emergencies, but it’s ideal to look up water safety first aid courses that include CPR lessons as a preventive measure.
Most water interactions are considered safe unless it’s an extreme water sport such as cavern diving, windsurfing, etc., but water sports lovers still risk injuries. If one can administer basic first-aid needs closely, one should be able to steer clear of possible dangers. However, if there’s any noticeable bleeding or loss of senses and swelling, seek assistance from your coast guards and call for medical support immediately.