Before you go out on your kayak, SUP or boat this summer be sure to follow these basic water sports safety tips
Spending time on a boat and participating in water sports activities in the summertime is a whole lot of fun for people of all ages. You can catch fish, get a tan, and even play some water sports. Approximately 13.4% of the United States population participated in water sports in 2017 alone.
If you want to join in on the fun, make sure you follow these safety tips before you hit the water.
Know how to swim
This may sound silly, but some people still go out on the water with subpar swimming skills. If you aren’t the best swimmer, that’s okay because you can take swimming lessons. The YMCA has been teaching people to swim for more than 100 years, so check out the center near you for more information.
Wear a life jacket
Even if you’re a good swimmer, you should still wear a life jacket. According to the American Canoe Association, an estimated 70% of drownings that involve kayaks, canoes, and rafts could have been avoided if the victim was wearing a personal flotation device (PFD).
It’s important for both adults and kids to wear life jackets when participating in water sport activities.
When you are participating in water sports or even just playing around in the water, you want to make sure you give yourself plenty of space.
Ideally, you should stay 500 feet away from docks, pilings, buoys, sandbars, mussel beds, oyster reefs, aquaculture, moored boats, moving boats, or really anything else. If you’re in a smaller lake, 200 feet should be between you and anything dangerous.
Know the rules
Just like the road you drive your car on, the open water has rules as well. You must understand your rights of way as well as your role compared to other vessels on the water. If you’re in a small canoe in a busy harbor with motorized boats, you must understand what shoreline you need to ride against, the proper attire, etc.
You should also be aware of the hand signals people use on the water:
- okay (thumb and tip of index finger together)
- faster (thumbs up), slower (thumbs down)
- stop (hand slashing across neck)
- go back to the dock or shore (pat head)
Watch the weather
Although the weather is unpredictable, and you may have had an outing planned for weeks, you should not risk the chances that the conditions will be in your favor. Even if the sun is shining, the conditions of the water may not be great. Check the wind levels and fog near the shorelines and dangerous rip currents before heading out for the day.
What to do if you do get hurt
Unfortunately, even if you follow all the safety precautions necessary, you can still get hurt. In the event of some kind of injury on the water, you should get the victim to a hospital as soon as possible, even if the injury seems minor. You never know what the impact may be.
Urgent Care centers are also a good choice to get medical attention. More than 66% of Urgent Care Centers are open before 9 AM during the week, 45.7% do so on a Saturday, and 31.1% do so on a Sunday. So you don’t want to wait to get an appointment with your doctor because an Urgent Care Center will most likely be open.
With these tips in mind, you’ll have better peace of mind and enjoy safer water sports activities throughout the season.
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