All Necessary Steps to Surf Safely
Taking Surf Safety Seriously
Surfing is an amazing sport that can be as therapeutic as it can be adrenaline-pumping. With more and more people getting out on the water, it’s extremely important to surf safely so you can keep yourself and others safe.
Since surfing is so much fun, it can be easy to forget that there are real dangers associated with the sport. Of course, by following some proper etiquette and surfing safely, these dangers can be avoided. So, let’s take a look at some important surf safety tips that will help you to minimize your risk and maximize your fun!
Simple Techniques to Surf Safely
Sometimes it’s the fundamentals that can help us most in a bind. If you haven’t perfected any of the following basic moves, you should practice first in shallow water before heading out to test your skills on larger waves. Never push yourself beyond your means and ability since it could lead to a dangerous situation for yourself and others.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 4 basic techniques you should master before going surfing in deep or choppy water!
1. Falling Properly
Ironically, in order to surf safely, you need to know how to fall correctly. If you don’t learn how to fall properly, you could end up injuring yourself on your board. Many surfboards are made of hard materials to prevent them from taking damage from sharp and rough surfaces. While this perk keeps your board safe, if you happen to fall directly onto it, it will likely end up causing you some harm.
Instead of falling onto your board, practice falling to the side. Even if you use an inflatable stand-up paddleboard (iSUP), it’s best to practice falling to the side.
2. Find Your Balance
There’s an art to keeping yourself balanced on your board when you ride a wave. While it’s often tempting to bend your back in an attempt to lower your center of gravity, this actually leads to a lack of stability and could lead you to end up wiping out. Instead, bend your knees to lower your stance and maintain control as you find your balance. In order to surf safely, balance is key, so don’t try riding larger waves until you’re a master at balancing on your board.
Whether you’re using an iSUP or surfboard, you’ll need to make sure you can maximize the efficiency of your paddle strokes. Many beginners paddle too far forward, causing the nose of their board to submerge, or paddle from too far back, causing the board to turn rather than go straight. Make sure you’re able to paddle well before tackling large waves.
There are many different ways to maneuver your board so you can surf safely and successfully. Just a few such techniques include the bottom turn, carving, and the cutback. Beginners who are just getting the hang of maneuvering on their board should stick to calmer waters and smaller waves until they have mastered this important aspect of surfing.
8 Safety Tips for Different Water Conditions
There are three main types of water that most surfers will encounter. These include calm water, choppy water, and deep water. Each type of water possesses its own risks, so the following precautions should be taken in order to surf safely in these conditions.
1. Only Visit Beaches with Lifeguards
Whether you’re in calm water, choppy water, or deep water, try to find a beach that has at least one lifeguard on duty. On the off chance that something goes wrong, or you find yourself in an emergency, you’ll want to have someone to turn to for help. Even the most experienced surfers need assistance, occasionally!
2. Know Your Flags
At beaches where lifeguards are present, flags will be set up to indicate important information about the type of activities permitted and the conditions present. Pay attention to the flags, as the information they provide is relevant in all water conditions.
Red Flag: When a red flag is present, it means danger! Do not enter the water under any circumstances.
Red and Yellow Flag: This flag means that the area is under the supervision of lifeguards. This flag represents the safest area for swimming, bodyboarding, and using inflatables.
Black and White Checkered Flag: Indicates an area where surfing, stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking are allowed. It is also a suitable launch and recovery area for kitesurfers and windsurfers. Do not swim or bodyboard here.
Orange Windsock: This is an indicator of strong wind conditions. Never use any inflatables when you see the orange windsock hoisted.
3. What to do If You Get Caught in a Rip
Rips are powerful bursts of current that occur in shallow and calm-looking water. The danger is that these types of current can take you from the safety of the shallows into deeper and choppier water. To safely navigate rips, make sure that you keep hold of your board to stay afloat. Do not swim against a rip since you will get tired quickly. Instead, swim parallel to a rip until you are free of it and then swim back to shore. If you find yourself totally tired, raise an arm in the air and shout for help.
4. Know What Waves You Can Handle
If you are a beginner and are still mastering the four techniques to surf safely, make sure to start off in spilling waves, which can be found in the shallows. Do not venture out into deep or choppy waters to chase dumping waves or heavy shore breaks. These waves are much less forgiving and could have you in trouble if you are not suitably experienced.
5. Traffic Conditions
While this sounds more like driving advice, it turns out that there can be a lot of traffic out on the water, as well. In order to surf safely, keep an eye out for other surfers in the shallows to avoid collisions. If you are out in choppy or deep waters, make sure you know at what times boats and other watercraft might be frequenting more regularly and attempt to avoid surfing at those times.
6. Weather Hazards
It goes without saying, but whether you are in shallow water, choppy water, or deep water, you should never surf in storms or overly windy conditions. Make sure to check your local weather before heading out for a day out on the water. In addition to storms and generally violent weather, fog can also be of serious concern to those who plan of surfing further out from shore. On foggy days, it may become difficult to get your bearings if the shoreline is no longer visible.
7. Check Your Equipment
Your equipment is what will enable you to surf safely, so make sure you perform the necessary checks before you carve up those waves! Things to look out for include:
- The strength and condition of your leash
- Any dings or tears in your board
- Do you have a spare paddle if you are using a SUP or iSUP?
- Have you brought a life jacket if you are not a strong swimmer?
- Do you have a communication device on hand in case of emergencies?
8. Let Someone Know Where You Are
It’s always best practice to let someone you trust know when and where you are going surfing. Even if you plan on surfing safely, you can do so with the peace of mind that if something does go wrong, people know where you are and can look for you.
Surf Safely and Have Fun!
It may seem like there’s a lot to be cautious about, but most of these things become second nature once you start surfing more often. Best of all, the surfing community is welcoming, warm, and helpful, so if you aren’t sure about something, ask a fellow surfer! With the safety side of things taken care of, all you have left to do is to get out on the water, find a wave and have a great time!