With the summer here, people are drawn to the waters and the beaches once again. One of the most popular water sports will undoubtedly take off too; surfing! Time to ride the waves- but do it without injury! Before you get your surfboard out and hit the waters, you need to make sure you’re following some basic safety measures.
Talking to the more experienced surfers, we have put together a list of safety steps you need to add to your Surfing Plans.
Look Out For Rip Currents
“The number one piece of advice we always give to beginner surfers is to look out for rip currents. One way to tell if there is a rip current at a beach is when you see sand swishing around in the water. Always steer clear of these parts of the beach. Take advice from local lifeguards and other surfers on where the safe areas are to surf. Finally, once you paddle out, always mark your position with a fixed point on the beach to ensure that you don’t get swept sideways and into a channel where there may be a rip current.”
Marc Bromhall, Founder of Beginner Surf Gear
Keep Your Board Secured
“As a car accident attorney and surfer, I cannot overemphasize how important it is to keep your board secured to your car when traveling to and from the beach. Make sure the straps are strong and tight. Check for sun damage and replace them when they get old. When in doubt, throw them out.”
Justin J. Effres, Effres & Associates
Choose the Right Place to Surf
“Surfing is an adventure that has been increasingly popular in the last couple of years. But it is important to remember that safety has to be a #1 priority. In southern California, there is a wide variety of beaches to surf at. Whether you are an experienced surfer or a beginner, there is a place for you.
“If you are looking for a relaxing, safe, and easy place to longboard, check out San Onofre Beach or Doheney State Beach. These two spots are family friendly for an easy day in the water. If you are looking for faster and heavier waves check out Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point. One beach to stay away from, unless you are very experienced, is The Wedge in Newport Beach. These waves can be very dangerous for beginners.”
Matt Nelson, Joe’s Surf Shop
Understand Safety Precautions
“Whenever you are thinking about learning how to surf or picking up a new hobby, make sure that you first have a good understanding of safety precautions. There are several dangers that you face every time that you are in the water and being aware of them ahead of time can possibly mean the difference between life and death. The ocean is unpredictable and you never know what tomorrow will bring.” (Flo Farmer)
Start In Calmer Waters
“It is always a good idea to start out small and learn to surf in a calmer, safe area. The best places to learn how to surf are in the calmer, warmer waters. You can save the big waves, rainstorms, and dangerous waters for a later date when you know exactly what you’re doing.” (Flo Farmer)
Check the Weather
“If you’re going to be in the ocean for one of these long-distance surfing trips, you better check to see the weather. Far too many surfers have gotten themselves into some tricky situations by not checking the forecast before getting in the water. There have been numerous situations where the surfing trip has been cut short by a sudden rain shower or a massive storm.
“If you have your belongings on a boat, you could get stranded halfway through your trip, costing you the money and time that you spent getting there. Also, learn about spots that are known for rip currents as well as how to react should you get into one of them. If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the water or if there’s a real risk of the conditions changing, make sure that you bring a good waterproof watch.”
Flo Farmer, The Surf Expert
Know Your Limits
“First, you need to understand the surfing etiquette, give right of way, know your limits and never go beyond the black and white chequered flags. Check the local weather forecast for swells, winds, and tides before setting out, and speak to a lifeguard to tell you the location of rip currents so you can be aware. It is bad to dive headfirst, whether you are surfing over sand or reef because you don’t know what is beneath and the ocean floor can severely hurt you. If you fall off the board or get wiped out, find a way to protect the impact with your surfboard and use your arms to shield your head.
“Finally, avoid dropping in as it could lead to injuries and damaged surfboards, and don’t snake or get in the way, just surf with respect.”
Katherine Brown, Founder & Marketing Director Spyic
Surf Safety Gear
“Make sure you have the proper safety gear for surfing. To avoid possible reef cuts, pick out a wetsuit that is thick enough and that is appropriate for the weather. You may also consider wearing surf booties to protect you from walking on sharp reefs. Also, double-check your surf leash and leash plug and make sure they are in good condition to avoid getting separated from your board.” (Christopher Liew)
“Know the proper surf etiquette so as not to collide with other surfers. Try to paddle out from the impact zone where most of the surfers will be riding. Avoid dropping in and always listen for any remarks from the other surfers telling you to ‘watch out’.” (Christopher Liew)
Surfboard Handling Accidents Can Occur From Poor Surfboard Handling
“Don’t put the surfboard between you and the waves as you can get hit in the face with it. Keep it to your side and always keep your board with you. Don’t bail out from a wave and toss your surfboard to the side as it can hit other surfers surrounding you.” (Christopher Liew)
Know Your Limits
“Don’t try to catch the bigger and faster waves if you’re still a beginner at surfing. Physical fitness and swimming is also a factor to consider. If you’re a bit out of shape and your swimming skills need improvement, then it’s best to stick to softer, smaller waves or friendlier waves near the shallow area of the beach.” (Christopher Liew)
Familiarize The Surf Spot Before Paddling Out
“Plan out where to enter or exit and be aware of any riptides. Check to see if there are any natural or man-made obstacles such as rocks and bridge poles to avoid crashing into them during a ride. Ask the local lifeguard about the marine life if there are any sharks or poisonous jellyfish and sea snakes.”
Christopher Liew, Founder of Wealthawesome.com