Surfing Hazards & Avoiding Injuries

Surfing can certainly be a dangerous activity. Whenever you’re up against Mother Nature, there’s some risk involved. Add other people and hard, sharp surfing equipment to the mix and the risks go up.

Continue reading to learn about some of the dangers that come along with surfing and how to avoid injuries.

What are the Dangers of Surfing?

If you don’t know what you’re doing, if you’re unprepared, or simply unaware surfing can be a dangerous sport. Here are some of the hazards you may encounter while surfing:

  • Powerful waves Waves can pack a punch. Heavy lips can break boards and bones. Falling on a steep, fast wave can feel like hitting concrete. Powerful consistent sets can hold you down and fatigue you quickly.
  • Impacts and collisions – Impacts with your board, the bottom, and other surfers can cause serious injury or death.
  • Cuts and lacerations – Sharp fins, surfboard noses, and rocks and reef can cut deep and leave you with some serious injuries.
  • Surfer’s Ear or Swimmer’s Ear – These can occur after prolonged exposure to cold water and wind (aka surfing in a lot of places) and water getting trapped in your ear.
  • Sea life – Humans are always guests in the water when they paddle out. Sharks, jellyfish, stingrays, urchins, and other wildlife can pose a threat.
  • Weather conditions – Ocean currents, wind, and temperature can change quickly and leave you in a bad position. Surfing after a heavy rainfall can lead to bacteria infections and sickness from runoff and waste.

Avoiding Surf Injuries

If you know how to recognize potential hazards and prepare yourself, you’ll be able to prevent and avoid most of the dangers associated with surfing. Follow some of these tips to stay safe in the water:

  • Listen to instructions of any lifeguards and beach postings.
  • Don’t surf too far beyond your limits.
  • Take time to stretch and exercise regularly to keep yourself flexible, strong, and healthy in and out of the water.
  • Know how to identify ocean currents and rip currents.
  • Avoid surfing for a few days after a rainfall.
  • Wear surfing ear plugs.
  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Be mindful of your board – don’t ditch your board and try not to fall in front of it.
  • Wipe out calmly – stay loose, calm, and aware when you fall. Come up slow to avoid bashing the top of your head on your board.
  • Avoid falling head first, protect your neck and your head with your arms.
  • Get proper sleep and rest, and avoid surfing if you’re too tired or fatigued.
  • Don’t surf under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Wear a surfing helmet.
  • Be mindful of wildlife – be aware of any posted warnings, shuffle your feet to avoid stepping on stingrays, avoid surfing with any open wounds. Keep your distance from wild animals.

If you remember to stay calm, remain aware, and be prepared you’ll have no problem avoiding some of the dangers of surfing.