The opportunity to enjoy Ireland’s breathtaking beaches is too often tempered with news of tragic aquatic fatalities. Irish Water Safety has partnered with the Irish Surfing Association to proactively address the safety of surfers nationwide by producing a key safety resource – a ‘Stay Safe on the Surf’ poster. The free poster is available from both organisations and is distributed to surf shops so that surfers are aware of the dangers and know how to stay safe.
Ireland has some of the finest surfing conditions in the world and with the launch of this new safety guide the growing number of Irish surfers can look forward to a safer surfing environment by taking responsibility for their own safety. All surfing interests are requested to promote this simple code of safe practice to ensure that aquatic injuries and drowning do not happen as more people enjoy this very popular water sport.
Key safety points to staying safe when surfing:
1. Be able to swim.
2. Get proper instruction at an ISA approved surf school or club.
3. Check local knowledge with lifeguards or experienced surfers.
4. Study the waves and only go out if you are capable in the conditions that prevail. Stick to beaches until you are experienced. Do not be over-confident.
5. Learn to observe the ocean to identify rips, wind changes and other hazards. If caught in a rip, always paddle across current to safety.
6. Never go out at night when darkness is approaching.
7. When you ‘wipeout’, do not come to the surface too soon. Protect your head with your arms as you come to the surface. Wear a safety helmet.
8. Check your equipment, especially your leash. It is much easier to spot a brightly coloured board and wetsuit at sea in the event of you requiring rescue.
9. Never go out in the surf alone.
10. Check the weather and tides before you paddle out. Spring high tides can make entering and exiting the water dangerous.
11. Advise someone ashore where you are going and when you will be back.
12. Have respect for other surfers and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
13. Don’t be a hazard to swimmers or other water users. Always check behind you for other water users before abandoning your surfboard to dive under a wave.
14. If you find yourself in difficulty, stay calm. Do not discard your board. Wave your arms in the air to attract attention and shout for help.
15. If you see someone in difficulty, ring 112 or 999 and ask for Marine Rescue.