Days are getting longer, temperatures are rising and as the sea slowly warms up, it's time to get your stuff out of storage and start planning some water adventures.
But before you go sprinting off to the beach or open water, brush up on your water safety skills so those adventures are memorable for all the right reasons. This week, we've got your back with some essential water safety guidance from Brendon Prince, world record paddle boarder and founder of the water safety charity, Above Water.
Here are Brendon's top 10 tips for staying safe on, in or around water.
1. Get a professional lesson in your activity
This will teach you what you don’t know and prepare the body and mind for a lifelong, safe and enjoyable experience.
2. Knowledge and experience
Have you got the relevant knowledge and experience for the activity in the conditions in front of you (including if they change for the worse)? Are you aware of any local hazards?
Be prepared (in advance) for all eventualities.
3. Have the right kit
Have you checked all your kit? It should be in excellent order; you never want any kit failures or surprises on the water.
Are you wearing the right clothing for the activity? Remember: clothing should be for potential immersion not the air temperature.
Have you got the right buoyancy aid, leash, kill cord, swim buoy for your activity?
Oh, and ALWAYS wear a buoyancy aid.
4. Never go out alone
It's more fun with others, plus if anyone gets into trouble, there's someone else to help and/or call the emergency services. Speaking of which, if you need help on the coast, call 999 and ask for the coastguard. For inland waterways, call 999 and ask for fire and rescue.
5. Check the conditions
What's the general weather (local and national)? What's the wind doing? And which direction is it coming from being the big question for most water activities. The next question should be, is it high tide or low tide and what's the direction of flow? For rivers, is the flow likely to increase?
Have answers to all of these questions before heading out.
6. Have a plan
What are your timings? What's your destination and do you have an escape route off the water?
Plan for the unexpected and let someone on dry land know your plan.
7. More than one method of communication
Never rely on just one method of communication. What are your options…?
Hand signals, whistle, mobile phone (check network/signal?), VHF radio (do you have a licence?), distress flares (traditional and digital), EPIRB (Emergency Positio Indicating Radio Beacon), GPS markers, and tracking apps.
8. Sun protection
Sun exposure on the water is almost double vs. on land. You get hit directly from the sun and again as damaging UV rays bounce off the water and hit your skin again. This is equally true in cloudy weather and throughout the year not just during blazing sunshine.
Make sure (a) you're protected before setting off and (b) carrying sunscreen. SPF 50+ as standard for on the water. Also have a think about UPF clothing and a sun-rated hat.
Read more here for skin safety on the water.
Have respect for other water users, wildlife and our beautiful environment. Take nothing but photos and leave nothing but footprints in the sand. Always demonstrate safe practice, help others and give everyone enough room to be safe. Drugs and alcohol are a very bad addition to any water experience: don’t do it!
10. Have FUN!
This is the best bit, a great day on, in or around water can’t be matched. Be safe and everyone goes home with the best memories!
This is a general list. Depending on your activity, you may require more specific safety measures. It's your responsibility to make sure you and your loved ones are safe on, in or around water. The first most vital step for water safety is getting a lesson. Book your lesson with a local instructor today.