Is surfing dangerous? Visiting this page means you are a responsible person. So first of all: Good to see that you are sensible! Surfing is known to be an extreme sport but is fun and safe as long as you take responsibility. Lots of sports have dangers or hazards. You can get an injury with football and boxing just as much as you can with surfing. Fear is a choice but danger is real. I have done my best to have a list of safety tips for you.
If you have any additional ideas for safety then by all means add them to the comments!
1. Not taking surf lessons
If you are ” a kook” (kook= unexperienced know it all type.) then I urge to NOT think:
“I don’t need lessons, I’ll teach myself how to surf.”
The main reason for me would be safety. A surf instructor can make you aware of safety precautions and you will have more fun by learning efficiently. If you are constantly not catching waves and just falling of the board, you are not going to have a good time. Please do read the rest of the list why number 1 counts for several reasons.
2. Surfing alone
Some beaches do not have a lifeguard or might not have a lifeguard when you are at the beach. Licensed surf instructors are required to be trained in surf life saving. If something happens to you, you really would want someone to be there. Tip number 1 is a good solution for that.
3. Currents and waves
One must NEVER underestimate the power of the sea. Waves and rip currents can be more powerful than you think. Again, this is something your surf instructor can help you with. You will need some experience or knowledge to understand how you can recognize these dangers but for now I just want you to simply understand: “The sea can be very powerful and that’s it.”
4. Swiming ability – simply put: no swimming = no surfing!! Ok?
You might be surprised to read this but not everyone can swim and sometimes they even go into the sea. Some people actually try to surf without being able to swim. Don’t let anyone make you think you can use a surf board as your safety net! First of all swimming in the ocean is different from a swimming pool, secondly surf boards have a leash attached to your leg but if not attached properly, the board can float away quickly. If you are not sure about your swim ability, then don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’m sure people will respect you for taking responsibility. By the way, tip number 1 relates to the issue. You can ask your surf instructor about swimming ability and how to use your leash.
Besides, why not learn how to swim?
5. Rock and reefs
Not all beaches have soft sandy bottoms. Just keep in mind you can bump or hit a rock. If you are a beginner and you can choose a sandy beach, I would recommend it. For different circumstances there will always remain the option to wear surf booties and helmets. Ask your local instructors for advice.
6. Fin cutts and board hazard
Yes, you can actually get injured by your own equipment. Fins of a surf board can cut you but also just getting hit by the board. If you are a beginner, I recommend using foam boards. Should you get hit by them, at least it will be soft foam on your head. (It makes a difference, I have felt it.)
People who can swim well can still drown. This might sound scary but you can minimize the risk a lot by knowing what you are doing. So consider: taking someone with you, going to a beach with a lifeguard or/and taking lessons.
8. Floating vest, life vests
Might be a good option in some circumstances. Ask for your surf instructor about advice.
9. Locals – Respect should always remain important
You will be fine as long as you respect the locals. I have never had any problems relating to this issue but I have heard others telling me all kinds of stories. You learn about this if you are progressing from beginner to improver level. There are surf rules you need to know at a certain point. Please be nice
10. Marine life – Sharks, urchins, jelly fish, sting rays, etc.
I know you are probably scared of sharks but this really isn’t the most dangerous aspect of surfing. Some spots have dangerous marine life and some don’t. I don’t know where you are, so ask your instructors for advice.
Still scared of sharks? Allow me to share some statistics:
Professor Jeff Rosenthal from the University of Toronto:
Some people actually die from a falling coconut. (Not kidding)
“Your odds of getting killed by a shark are 1 in 400 million. Over half of all of the world’s shark attack takes place on the beaches of Florida.” More people actually die from coconuts falling of a tree and getting struck by lightning. Are you afraid of a coconut?