Water Safety Tips by Surfers for Surfers
While surfing is a very safe sport, injuries and death sometimes do occur. A lot of the scrapes, lacerations, and fatalities that happen are easily prevented. Read on:
1. Wear a leash. It used to be "cool" to not use one; people used to say, "Leashes are for those who plan on eating it." There's nothing macho about having to swim after your board and then going home to fix dings when it bounces off the rocks (yes, you WILL eat it, no matter who you are). Also, the safety concern is not entirely yours alone- your board might hit someone as it gets washed to shore. The most frequent injuries caused by leashless surfing are:
Realize some water animals might not be friendly. While one statistically
stands a much greater chance of getting struck by lightning or being
severely injured hanging Christmas lights than getting bit by anything
in the ocean, things do happen. In fact, nearly a third of all the world's
reported shark attacks took place in Florida. The vast majority
of those took place in Volusia and Brevard counties. The Central
Florida region is also a host to yearly bluefish runs (bluefish are
like ocean-dwelling piranha in their voracity, yet they grow much larger
and swim in bigger schools than their Amazonian counterparts), the occasional
desperate barracuda, flotillas of Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish, and
a host of other things that bite and sting.
months of physical therapy, Dave's back in the water. The last I saw
him, he was NOT wearing anything metallic/shiny! Flashes of metal
look like injured fish to sharks, barracuda, and bluefish.
It's best to leave the Rolex at home while surfing. .
3. Know your limits!!! If you just started surfing, going out at Monster Hole during a hurricane wouldn't be brilliant.
4. Use sunscreen. Cancer is very, very real. It may not show up when you're young, but letting yourself get sunburned day after day will cause problems down the road.
5. If you see a thunderstorm coming, leave IMMEDIATELY. Florida in particular is very prone to lightning strikes, and, unlike in movies and tabloids, getting struck is usually fatal.
6. If in doubt, give the other guy/gal the right-of-way. Collisions are the cause of many a suture. If it's so crowded that it's hard to catch a decent wave without 5 people dropping in on you and swerving around half a dozen more paddling out, it may be best to try the empty peak 50 yards down the beach (sometimes it's better there and you won't have to put up with any attitudes).
Again, surfing is usually fun and extremely safe. Just keep your eyes open and anticipate hazards in order to circumvent injury.
Now get off the computer and go surf!