To the question, “Is surfing dangerous?” it’s hard to give a clear answer. After all, the essence of surfing is gliding across the face of a wave at high speed. By default, an extreme sport in the middle of the ocean carries a certain amount of risk.
But surfing is not as dangerous as it seems. It really depends on how many risks you are willing to take. If you do your homework and realize the dangers of surfing before you jump in the water, surfing is healthy, fun, and very safe even for beginners.
If you don’t know what the danger is, then read this article that describes the most common dangers of surfing, and gives tips and tricks for you to stay safe in the water.
When it comes to sports that can involve a high level of risk, it’s always a really good idea to be prepared. You need to know what you are up against and how to avoid any dangerous situations.
You can start by reading this article about surfing. This way you can learn how to read the ocean, how to identify the lineup and how to make it to the outback.
It’s important not to underestimate the power of the ocean, so make sure you do everything in your power to prepare your body for surfing
Eating right and doing yoga are all aspects that will help improve your chances of avoiding the risks of surfing(How To Train For Surfing: 17 Exercises to Improve Your Surfing). Surfing requires a high level of endurance and flexibility, and keeping these important things in check will certainly give you a safer surfing session.
A breaking wave is essentially pure energy exploding, and the human body can be quickly overwhelmed. Big waves can break bones, burst eardrums and knock you unconscious, and in the worst cases, cause death.
Always know your limits and never let your friends make you do something stupid. If you don’t have experience with big waves, don’t try to be a big wave surfer.
If you are standing on the beach and are unsure, don’t go in the water. Don’t listen to all: the “go big or go home” talk. Respect the ocean and don’t take risks, both for your own safety and others.
Drowning is one of the more dangerous aspects of surfing. Being held down by one or more waves is the leading cause of drowning, and even experienced big-wave surfers sometimes experience dangerous hold-downs.
Always remain calm during a hold-down. The more you panic, the more oxygen your body uses, the faster you need air. If you surf a lot, you’ll get used to being underwater, but if you’re new to the game, just try to relax.
Some surfers imagine their “happy place.” It could be watching TV on the couch, lying in their bed, or even sitting on the toilet – whatever makes you relax.
They look dangerous, but in reality sharks are not as big a threat as many think
Although it is often a pleasant surprise when the line-up is visited by real locals, some of the ocean’s inhabitants can pose a threat.
The great white shark is the king of the ocean and as such is most feared by surfers. Many surfers have been attacked by sharks, perhaps most notably Bethany Hamilton who lost an arm to a shark and Mick Fanning who was attacked during a surfing event in Jeffreys Bay.
Shark attacks are extremely rare but take no chances. If you see a shark in the lineup, leave the water immediately.
The term localism is used when local surfers act in a hostile and unfriendly manner towards visiting surfers. Some of us have been victims of the phenomenon in some form, but we can all agree that it is not the most glamorous part of surf culture.
Perhaps the most notorious and well-known surf gangs are the Wolfpack and the Black Shorts in Hawaii, the Brah Boys in Australia, and the Longos in Los Angeles. But the fact is that almost every region of the world has its share of delays.
A simple trick is simply to give respect and not be a loud, waving jerk. Be polite and let the locals make a few waves before you start your engine. Don’t look past anyone and spread positive vibes.
Collisions with other surfers pose a significant risk. Most of the time nothing serious happens, but still, this is the one thing that causes the most accidents.
Certain rules apply when surfing, and it’s important that everyone in the lineup follows those rules. In short, watch out for other surfers and always keep your distance.
Never take off on a wave that other surfers are already riding, and never let go of your board. Take a long break while paddling so surfers catching waves don’t hit you.
And always, always, always be friendly, polite and humble, especially if you are a visitor. This is a good rule of thumb in real life, too.
If the leash breaks and you get separated from your surfboard, it can be dangerous. If you don’t have enough stamina to swim ashore, you will probably drown. So don’t rely too much on your leash to save you, and always have enough strength to swim ashore without your surfboard. (read: How To Choose A Surfboard Leash)
Leash tangles may be more annoying than dangerous, but it’s still something that makes surfers’ lives miserable. In extreme situations, the line can get wrapped around a jagged reef during a wipeout and keep the surfer underwater.
The reef can be razor-sharp, so be careful at low tide
Surfing on a shallow reef
Surfing on a shallow reef can be a really dangerous experience. The jagged and sharp reef can cause serious injuries, and a head first collision with the reef can even be fatal.
If the reef is coral, it can cause even more damage. If you fall on a wave, the razor-sharp reef will cut your skin and leave small pieces of coral behind. If not removed, the coral will infect the wounds.
Surfing A beach vacation may seem a little less dangerous, but compressed sand is as hard as concrete. Never wipe your head first and be careful at low tide.
Riptides are a strong current that sends water away from the beach. It acts like a torrent of water that can send both surfers and other beachgoers out to sea in seconds. The strong current makes it impossible to swim directly ashore, so it is best to swim to the side where the current is not as strong.
Sometimes riptides are not directly caused by waves breaking on the shore, but by the massive amounts of water flowing in the ocean. This causes a strong current along the shore and can pull surfers away from the line at a relatively high and constant speed.
It takes a lot of paddling effort and sometimes sheer willpower to paddle back into position or back to shore.
Although surfers rarely get sick surfing polluted water, this is something that is very real. Surfers have died from staph infections caused by surfing in polluted water, and in general, dirty waters are a major health concern for surfers.
As a rule of thumb, water is most polluted after a thunderstorm. During heavy rain, pollution is washed from the land into the sea, creating dirty setups. If your local break suffers from pollution, wait until 3 days after a rainstorm before jumping into the water.
If you can’t wait 3 days to hit the beach, remember to shower immediately after your surf session. And try to stay away from rain drainage pipes.
Because of the strong sun, surfers are tanned. But it comes with a price
When surfing, your skin is particularly exposed to the sun’s rays. The water acts like a mirror reflecting the sun’s rays, and the salt dries out your skin much faster than normal. It’s estimated that more surfers die from skin cancer than drowning.(read: Sun Protection While Surfing)
If you don’t know how to avoid getting fried in the sun or treat a sunburn, read our article When the Sun and Surf Go Bad. Here are some simple tips and tricks on how to protect your skin.
When you’re paddling it’s 3 feet and fun, but in a few minutes it’s 10 feet and super scary. The weather can be really unpredictable and the weather changes almost always affect the surf.
The scariest situation is when surfers are trapped in the water. When a big swell suddenly appears, catching surfers by surprise, some surfers can’t reach shore because of the size of the breaking waves.
Lightning can also be quite a problem. After all, surfers are more susceptible to light sitting in the middle of the ocean. If you spot lightning, get out of the water immediately.
Fortunately, most surfers check the weather forecast religiously, but if you don’t make this part of your daily routine.
How dangerous is surfing really?
As mentioned above, it is hard to claim that surfing is not dangerous. But the fact is that you should not worry too much, surfing is good for your mind, soul and body. Just be aware of the things that can harm you and others, and you will be fine.
In fact, surfing is probably safer than walking the dog or going to a party. So to the question of whether surfing is dangerous, we would say no. Just respect the ocean, the locals, and be aware of what you’re dealing with.