8 Tips For Safely Enjoying Winter Watersports
With the days getting shorter and winter on the horizon, for many it’s time to put the watersport equipment into storage for a few months until the weather warms up in spring.
However, with quieter waters, challenging conditions and the unique serenity that the season brings, some watersports enthusiasts actually prefer to hit the waves in winter.
If you’re one of them or you’re keen to give winter watersports a try, before you jump straight in there are a few additional safety considerations to make. This will ensure you stay safe and ensure you get as much enjoyment as possible out of your activities.
Get The Right Gear
First and foremost, if you’re going to enjoy the water then you’ll need to take the correct watersport equipment This can make or break your adventure, and it can make the difference between staying safe and getting into trouble.
Firstly, investing in appropriate wetsuits is a non-negotiable. Consider a full-body wetsuit with extra thickness to keep you warm in colder waters. Although this will provide less mobility, it’ll help keep you warm which is the most important consideration at this time of year.
For added insulation, you can also opt for neoprene socks and gloves to prevent heat loss through your extremities.
Check Weather Forecast
In winter the weather can change suddenly. One minute you’re enjoying the water in a calm breeze, and the next you’re being hammered by torrential rain and gail force winds!
Before heading out for a spot of winter watersports, make sure you always check the weather forecast. Pay special attention to wind speed, temperature and any potential storms that may make your day out unsafe. If conditions seem too extreme, it's best to postpone your adventure for another day.
Time It Right
Winter days are shorter, so it's essential to plan your outing accordingly as you don't want to get caught out on the water when the sun starts to go down.
Try to make the most of the available daylight. Be aware of when sunset is and aim to finish well before dusk to avoid being caught in fading light, which can make navigation challenging and pose safety issues.
Safety In Numbers
It's always wise to partake in watersports adventures with a friend or in a group. Having others around will provide an extra layer of safety and support in case there are any emergencies.
As an added precaution, make sure everyone in your party is familiar with safety procedures so you can assist each other if needed.
Dry Off Properly
After your adventure, it's essential to get dry and warm up as quickly as you can. This helps prevent hypothermia.
Be sure to pack warm, dry clothing that you can change into as soon as you exit the water. Fleece layers and insulated jackets are perfect, and don’t forget to bring a towel to dry off.
Know The Signs Of Hypothermia
When you’re swimming in cold water, hypothermia is always a risk. So to help you prepare for this scenario, familiarise yourself with the signs so you can take action early before it escalates.
Early signs of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, and poor coordination. So if you or anyone you’re on the water with starts to display any of these symptoms then it’s time to get out of the water and get warm immediately.
Prepare For Emergencies
Make sure you and your friends are always prepared for unforeseen emergencies. Carry a waterproof communication device such as a VHF radio or a waterproof phone case so you can get in touch with someone in case anything goes wrong.
Additionally, it's always a good idea to carry a small first aid kit and rescue equipment, such as a life jacket or safety flares, as this can alert others if you happen to get into any trouble.
Know Your Limits
Lastly, always respect your limits. Winter watersports can be challenging on both the mind and the body, so if you’re not feeling up to it then don't push yourself as you might end up putting yourself in danger.
So those are our top tips for staying safe in the water this winter. If you’re someone who prefers the challenging conditions and unique landscapes of winter then the colder months could offer the perfect opportunity to take part in some of your favourite activities. Just follow these steps and you should be able to do so as safely as possible.