Why is surf safety so important?
So you wanna know about surf safety? Well, you’re in the right place! Safety is something we Ratz take very seriously, after all, if you’ve been following the comics, you’ll see that we’ve been through some pretty dicey situations up until this point. But surfing is fun – right? You just gotta know how to stay safe and stoked!
So, what are you likely to get wiped out on out there in the ocean? Let’s take a look at some of the main dangers you need to be aware of:
The ocean and the waves which it produces are very strong natural forces. Even small waves can pack a powerful punch. They can knock you around and make you feel you’ve been tumbling in a washing machine – not pleasant! A wipe out doesn’t have to be dangerous, just make sure you are not surfing in conditions above your ability.
Currents run along the shore, parallel to the shore line (longshore currents), rip currents run from the beach back out to sea. If you know how to spot them and know what to do if you are caught, they should not be life threatening. Be sure to know how to recognise rip currents before venturing in to the water – it could save your life. Don’t ever try and rescue someone from a current and try to surf in areas only where there are lifeguards present. They are trained to help!
Rocks, boulders, cliffs and jetties are a couple of examples of solid objects you might hit whilst surfing. Always keep an eye out for these objects when entering the water. Sometimes boulders or rocks are submerged directly under the surface. It is wise to ask for advice from other surfers, or to visit the area at low tides and check out what’s usually hidden by the waves. In some locations with lots of coral and a reef bottom it is advisable to wear a helmet and booties to prevent injury from sharp coral. A good rash guard can also help with preventing scrapes from submerged objects.
Getting bitten by a shark is every surfer’s worst nightmare. Fortunately it does not happen often – in fact you are more likely to die by coconut than by Jaws. Jellyfish stings, sea urchin wounds and stingray injuries are more common. Prepare yourself and know what to do when you get stung. Spoiler alert! It’s no longer the done thing to pee on yourselves or your bros if you get stung…
Your Own Board.
Seriously. Beware your own equipment! Hitting your own board is not uncommon when starting to surf. Therefore most beginners learn on a foam board to protect their noggins and minimise the number of bruises. As you progress you will learn how to fall better and as a result minimize the risk of getting hit by your board. Occasionally you will get cut by your own fins yet usually these are just minor wounds that will heal nicely by themselves. (Just a few more war wounds to show how tough you are to the ladies watching!) But if you’re worried about an injury, be sure to seek medical attention.
Other surfers?! Other surfers can be a major hazard whilst out on the waves! For the same reason that your own surf board may damage you, other surfer’s boards may also damage both them and you. It’s advisable to be aware of other surfers, especially in crowded areas. Additionally, it is wise to respect surfing etiquette at all times so as to not be a nuisance or danger to others.
Surf leashes can break and as a result leave you stranded without your board. Therefore, in these instances being a good swimmer could save your life. Be sure to take some time to swim in the ocean and be comfortable and familiar with swimming. If you are comfortable and confident, you’ll be less likely to panic if you lose your board.
The weather can be unpredictable at times and can turn harsh in a very short period of time. As a result, dangerous swells, lightning and high waves can roll in very quickly and unexpectedly. When the wind suddenly picks up, it can result in bigger, choppier waves subsequently leaving you out of your comfort zone and ability level. Lightning storms are dangerous – so get out of the water as soon as possible if a storm is brewing. Remember to check the weather and local conditions before hitting the waves. They may not be totally accurate, but it’ll give you an idea of what to expect.
A bright, sunny can make for an awesome day on the water, but don’t forget that the sun will burn and damage your skin. Too much direct UV radiation can cause serious health implications in the long run, such as skin cancer. Be sure to smother yourself in some heavy duty waterproof sunscreen and grab yourself a rash guard from our store to help keep your skin safe. Rash guards are a must have to protect from the sun, as they not only provide a shield against those harsh, burning UV rays, but they’ll also keep you warm in cooler water and stop jellies and other ocean stingers from trashing your day and ruining your stoke. They also make an awesome fashion statement! Nice!
And there you have it – your one stop guide to surf safety. Surf’s up! Stay safe, stay stoked!
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