Eight Safety Rules for Water Sports
Planning a weekend of swimming, boating, fishing or other water activities? Well, before you jump into the tempting water, know that in 2005 the average deaths in water accidents were found to be up to 10 per day as recorded by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. You should know that there are risks to be avoided when you take your family out in the water.
Water danger can be avoided if you make sure that you follow the proper rules. A few important instructions to remember are:
Wear a Life Jacket
Whether it’s tubing or boating, you need to make sure that you have enough of a supply of life jackets with you. Life jackets make sure that if someone falls off the boat, inflatable tube, or water skis, that person will stay afloat on the surface until he or she can be rescued. Even if you plan on taking a slow ride in the boat, you never know what weather or current conditions you may meet. Thus, you need to make sure that the life jackets you have are of standard material and superior quality. Life jackets rated by the U.S. Coast Guard are the best.
Check the Weather
Find out the weather forecast before you head out in the water. Avoid going out when a rainstorm or thunderstorm or other inclement weather is expected. However, if you are already sailing or cruising when the weather changes, you should move to the shore or seek shelter immediately. Check the weather for boating, fishing, and other water sport activities at this NOAA site.
Dress Right and Wear Sunscreen
If you are going swimming, you need to wear all the appropriate accessories that complement your swimsuit, like goggles, mask and snorkel, fins, ear plugs, nose clipper etc. My preference in goggles and swim masks are the ones that are tinted. They provide protection from sunlight when my head is above the water.
However, if it’s fishing or boating that you are planning on, you might want to wear full sleeved, high necked shirts and comfortable shoes. Sunglasses and a broad hat would also make sure that your eyes, face and neck are protected.
Always wear sunscreen, no matter what the activity. Harmful ultra-violet rays from the sun are twice as dangerous in the lake, river or ocean as they are when reflected off the water. You need to have a strong enough SPF rating to protect your skin. Re-apply sun screen after every few hours to avoid sun burn, or after getting out of the water. You may not realize the damage while you are out during the day, but the symptoms of extra sun exposure will start showing after you get home.
Particularly when boating, before you leave, you need to tell someone where you are going, the expected amount of time you will spend there and the number of people that are going with you. It is advisable to always have company when you go out for a water activity. If you go out alone and have a problem, at least you will know that people will be looking for you when you don’t return. The U.S. Coast has an outline for a boating float plan that you can use as a guideline.
Use Navigational Aids
In conjunction with letting others know the details of your boating trip, it’s also a good idea to have navigational tools or units that can help with your time on the water. There are many GPS and ChartPlotter units that can provide a lot of useful information: depth of water, tides and currents data, location of navigational markers like buoys, lighthouse, and moorings, even the best time for fishing based on celestial information. They help you find your way out and can help to bring you back safely. I have found the best selection for GPS units and Chartplotters are located on Amazon.com. Some of the most popular GPS and ChartPlotter brands are Garmin, Lowrance, and Humminbird.
Stay Hydrated and Avoid Over Exertion
Spending time playing on the water can take more out of you than you may realize. Even when we are in nice, cool water, we are still expending a lot of energy and bodily fluids. Be sure to have lots of water nearby, so you can drink and stay hydrated. You can also drink other liquids with electrolytes for hydration purposes. But whatever you do, no alcohol. In the sun and on the water, the effects of alcohol are compounded, so avoid that problem.
Be sure to take breaks and don’t push yourself too hard. Breaks will allow you to recover some energy and get out of the sun for awhile.
Don’t Take Risks
It only takes a little carelessness to cause accidents in the water, so make sure you are prepared for everything related to the particular water sport you planning on. You can get expert advice, and then should follow that advice. The same with equipment: have reputable brands, and read the instructions on usage prior to using it.
Make safety your first priority and you will surely have an exciting summer of water sports fun.