Top tips on staying safe at sea
open water swimming
- It is safer and more fun to swim with someone.
- If you choose to go swimming alone, leave behind your swim plan (estimated timings, location)
- Check the conditions before you leave home (tides, wind, surf, temperature air and water).
- Wear a bright visible swim hat (orange is best)
- Carrying a tow float and a whistle is also a good way to increase your visibility in the water and to attract attention
- Take the time to acclimatise to the temperatures, if struggling with the effects of cold water shock, float on your back until you have caught your breath and relax.
- It's always advisable to paddle with someone, its also often more fun!
- If you are going paddling alone, leave your plan behind with someone. Include your location and route, estimated timings, what you and your equipment looks like. When you're done, don't forget to check out with them
- Check conditions before you leave home (tides, wind, surf, air and water temperatures)
- Take a phone in a waterproof case and make sure it is easily accessible, better still is have it on your person
- Consider wearing a personal floatation device (recommended for SUP and kayak paddling)
- Beware of wind direction, offshore winds can make it difficult to return to the shore
- Wear a leash to keep your board with you in case you fall off - it will avoid you becoming separated from it.
Photos: Luke Lane-Prokopiou
- If brand new to the sport it is advisable to have some lessons at a registered surf school, they will teach you how to stay safe and also get you up and riding a lot quicker than trying on your own
- Get familiar with surf forecasts - there are so many to choose from nowadays, find one that works for you
- Rip currents can be a surfers best friend or worst enemy - if stuck in a rip, NEVER ditch your board, paddle parallel to the shore until you feel it weaken, aim for the breaking waves and make your way back to shore. Avoid paddling directly into it, you won't get far and will eventually tire out.
- Check your equipment especially the integrity of the leash
- Be honest about your ability and the conditions - sometimes it can be as fun watching the pro's from the shore with a coffee as it can being out there. Big surf is not the place for learner surfers
- Where possible, surf at a lifeguarded beach - some RNLI beaches operate a black and white surf zone, if you see this, head there. If there isn't one, chat to a lifeguard to find out the best place for you to surf
- Be respectful of other surfers and get familiar with surf etiquette - dropping in as it's called is a big "No No" in the water. It is rude and can be very dangerous. Find out about surf etiquette online and make sure you understand it!