After a harsh winter and an allergy-laden spring, the first thing most of us want to do is spend our summer soaking up some sun on a beach somewhere. And if we can’t do that, then any pool will do. And if we’re not horsing around or relaxing on the beach, we are likely engaging in water sports, boating, canoeing, or kayaking. After all, what better way to stay fit and make new friends than by engaging in a little sportsmanship and/or strenuous group activities like boating, canoeing, or kayaking?
However, before engaging in any water-related activity, it is important to understand that each of the activities listed above contains their own set of risks. Consequently, it is crucial to keep a few things at the forefront of our minds in order to optimize our safety, which can be particularly difficult when engaging in fun and enjoy water-based activities. Here to lend a hand with that is a list of five essential boating and water sport safety tips.
1. Swimming Skills
Statistically, approximately ten people die from drowning per diem. Fortunately, there is one potential remedy that is quite simple: do not go into the water if you cannot swim. If you are kayaking or canoeing, keep in mind that it is extremely easy for the vessel to flip, sending you and anyone else on board straight into the water. So, before you go out into the water, take some swimming lessons. If you happen to be strapped on cash you can check into a variety of different organizations, like the American Red Cross, that offer free swimming lessons.
2. Life Jackets and Equipment
Additionally, when you are out on the water, make sure to wear a life jacket at all times. Many studies indicate that the majority of drownings could have been avoided if the person or persons had only been wearing a life jacket. So, even you do not consider them particularly stylish (though there are certainly some stylish life jackets available). It is important to make sure you wear them.
For you boaters, in addition to wearing a life jacket, it is important to make sure all your equipment. And components are up to date and comply with current safety standards, especially where the motor is concerned. So before venturing out onto the water, consult somewhere to ensure that your motor meets current safety standards.
3. Pay Attention to Weather Conditions
Let’s face it. The weather is becoming more and more unpredictable. It is easy for a bright, sunny day to turn into a tumultuous, stormy one at a moment’s notice (and sometimes even faster than that!). For this reason, it is important to thoroughly check the weather conditions before venturing out into a particular area. Additionally, take note of the wind patterns, particularly those closest to the shorelines. For those diving or surfing, be on the lookout for rip currents, which are prevalent in most open water areas. If you do happen to get stuck in a rip current, follow the American Red Cross’s Advice, which is conveniently posted on the “Beach Safety” section of their website.
4. Watch Your Surroundings
We all like to relax when we’re floating atop the water; however, it is very important to maintain an awareness of what is around us at all times. After all, you are completely surrounded by an environment that runs contrary to the elements that, as mammals, sustain our capacity for life. Additionally, there is also a human hazard: those who frequently use smaller vessels like paddleboards, canoes, or kayaks know that it can be difficult for those on a motorboat to spot you in the water. After all, not everyone manning a boat has taken a boating safety course. Consequently, this could result in a catastrophic accident.
To minimize the chances of such an occurrence, be aware of your surroundings, wear vibrantly-colored clothing. And carry some kind of device that will notify people of your presence. You will also want to ensure that you know your rights of passage before heading out into the water. As not doing so will increase the chances that you and/or those around you will be hurt.
5. Concerning Skin
By spending a lot of time outside under the sun, you are drastically increasing your likelihood of contracting skin cancer. The best way to minimize the chances of this occurring is by wearing sunscreen or clothing that will protect your skin, such as a wetsuit. This will help guard against skin cancer and keep you from getting sunburned. Wetsuits are particularly handy for those cold water excursions, including those involving diving or surfing. This is because they can help prevent hypothermia, which is an all-too-common occurrence for those venturing into the water unprepared. Think the water is warm enough? Think again: many have contracted hypothermia in waters clocking in at temperatures of nearly 80 degrees!