Let’s face the facts; heading to the coast and participating in water sports can be incredibly fun and exciting. From paddleboarding to surfing and kayaking there are a multitude of options for you if you want to enjoy the great outdoors here in the UK.
However, water sports can also be dangerous if they’re not enjoyed safely and responsibly, with an estimated 5% of spinal injuries caused each year arising from such endeavours. But what steps can you take to stay safe when enjoying your favourite water sports? Here are some considerations to keep in mind.
On a fundamental level, you need to make sure that you can perform a number of basic functions when entering the water. More specifically, you’ll need to be able to swim and float to live, with this requiring training and education (especially if you intend to explore choppy and largely untamed waters that you may find further out).
The BSUPA currently offer ‘ready to ride’ lessons which introduce you to rudimentary SUP techniques, alongside the basic principles of location selection to ensure that you identify the safest waters when indulging in your pastimes. The latter is particularly important, as this can make the difference between life and death in some instances.
Planning and Equipment
Once you’ve chosen your preferred location for enjoying water sports, with one of our best beaches being Lusty Glaze Beach in Cornwall, it’s important to consider the impact of real-time weather and climate factors in the area. As part of your planning, it’s recommended to check the weather forecast on a particular day and be aware of rising tides – the Met Office is a particularly reliable resource for this type of information.
Your wider preparation should also involve ensuring that you have the requisite equipment, both from a perspective of practicality and safety. You cannot dive without a wetsuit, for example, while a viable (and waterproof) communication device and buoyancy aid can also prove crucial when negating the open waves. You may need to invest money in the right equipment, and try to focus on the value and quality of the goods that you buy rather than trying to secure cash savings, which will likely need to be replaced further down the line.
Understand How to Respond in Case of an Emergency
Even the best-laid plans can go awry, of course, so you’ll need to be fully prepared to react in case an emergency occurs while you’re enjoying water sports.
In the immediate aftermath, you’ll need to alert emergency services by calling 999, asking for Coastguard to account for the potential hazards in play (depending on where you’ve been injured). If you incur an injury through water sports you may even be able to make a personal injury claim for compensation, especially if the incident was caused by faulty equipment or inadequate safety warnings in a dangerous area. This may be particularly necessary in the case of spinal injury claims, which may leave you unable to work or earn a living for a prolonged period of time.
Being prepared for every eventuality is the goal here, as knowing how to act can make a huge difference in times of emergency and crisis.