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Safety Tips For Surfers

Thinking of taking up surfing this year? If so, here are some tips for you.

-Make sure you have the right clothing and equipment. For more information, click here. Wear sunscreen; the sun reflects off of the surface of the ocean, so you're more likely to get a burn than you might otherwise.

-This might sound obvious, but make sure you are a strong ocean swimmer before venturing out with a surfboard. I emphasized 'ocean' because conditions in the ocean are completely different from those in a pool-pools have a solid bottom, sides to hold onto, don't usually have things lurking under the surface that you can't see, etc. If you're not sure, take lessons and 'practice' on a lifeguard-protected beach.

-Follow a regular fitness regimen to build up strength and endurance. The 'pullback' of the ocean requires more 'muscle' to navigate than a pool would, so be sure you have the strength and skill to tread water.

-Be aware of things such as piers, sandbars and the general landscape of the ocean floor before you go out. As I said above, you can't always see these things and you really don't want to run up against coral or cliffs that can give you a really nasty injury. Also, many sea animals such as jellyfish, sharks and stingrays come closer to the shore during certain parts of the day, so steer clear of them. While these animals are usually wary of people, you don't want to be caught by surprise.

-Pay attention to tide tables, currents and weather conditions. Ask a lifeguard or 'regular' where the safest places to surf are. If you find yourself caught up in a strong current, swim parallel to the shore until the current lets up. For more information about currents, click here.

-Be mindful of other surfers. Don't go surfing alone.

-Since physical activity in the sun can cause you to dehydrate more easily, drink plenty of fluids. I'm sure I don't have to tell you this, but those fluids should not be beer or any other alcoholic beverage!

-Like any other physical activity, know your limits. As much as your kids might want to show off, don't let them try any of the stunts (surfing under a pier, etc) we see in beach movies. Those people are professionals, and anyone with an ounce of common sense will leave the 'crazy stuff' to them.

And, what might be the most important-

-Heed all warning signs! If there's a sign or red flag that says 'Don't go in the water', DON'T GO IN THE WATER! Where I grew up, it wasn't uncommon for surfers to tempt fate by going out during a hurricane. Sure, the waves are bigger, but so are the undercurrents that can drag someone down and cause them to drown! Don't risk it-these warnings are issued for a reason!

For more information, visit this website. Have fun!

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