January is traditionally the time to make those New Year resolutions, whether it is ‘Dry January’ (that is abstaining from alcohol consumption), a new diet, fitness regime, learn a new language, change career/job, or learning something new to help improve yourself. Whatever you decide to tackle then we wish you the best of luck. It’s not easy taking on a new challenge, but whatever you try just keep going. There will be days that you will not feel like it, but stick with it and you will be surprised that little steps can make a big difference. Everyone has their own challenges and what one person takes for granted can be another person’s goal or massive achievement. During the COVID-19 pandemic many people have seized the opportunity to learn something new, take up a new hobby or taken an on-line course which we applaud!
For those of you who enjoy a water sport then January maybe the ideal opportunity to help improve their safety out on the water. Here are some ideas:
Lifejackets or personal floatation devices (PFD’s) are essential pieces of lifesaving kit which should be regularly serviced and worn at all times. Checking your lifejacket and getting it serviced is always a good start to the new year and maybe replacing one that you may have had for a long time taking advantage of the January sales at the Chandlers is always a good move. Whether you are a sailor, off-shore angler, kayaker, canoeist or paddle boarder a lifejacket or personal floatation device is a must for all sea and weather conditions.
Open Water Swimming
Open water or cold water swimming has really taken off in the past couple of years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. A brightly coloured swim hat and tow float are good purchases if you are intending on taking up this fabulous pastime in the New Year. Joining a club or signing up for some swimming lesson (when COVID-19 regulations permit) is also an excellent way of enjoying your new hobby. Swimming with a buddy, friend or club members is great fun, but also fabulous for safety as everyone will be looking out for each other.
Why not check out our previous post on some open water swimming safety tips.
VHF radio’s and courses
The preferred means of communication when out on the water is a VHF radio. They are a relatively inexpensive piece of kit to purchase, relatively simple to use under pressure in a life threatening situation, water proof, can deliver a recognised method of calling for assistance via channel 16, if you purchase one with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) a predefined automatic signal of your position will be transmitted in an emergency situation if you depress the DSC button; and has a better range of reception (often close to the shoreline a mobile phone can’t get a signal).
Once purchased you will need to attend and pass a radio course to teach you how to use it and it’s functions. The RYA run a wealth of radio courses across the UK and more and more are being offered with an on-line element.
Personal Locator Beacons (PLB’s)
These have really come down in price recently and are a highly recommended piece of safety kit which need to be registered with the HM Coastguard and your details update if you change address. Canoeists, kayakers, divers, paddle boarders. PLB’s have also drawn popularity in mountain biking, hiking and climbing circles enabling these sporting enthusiasts in remote locations to have a means of calling for help which can pinpoint their position and where there is no mobile phone signal.
Training or lessons
If you are just starting out in your new water sport or igniting an old passion then finding an approved instructor or subscribing to some lessons at a local club will be a good move to help you learn the basic’s, safety drills or refresh on some previously learnt techniques. Each sport will have their own approved instructors or schools which have been independently assessed for their specialist knowledge of the sport, safety aspects, equipment and insurance. A quick search of the relevant sport’s governing body will provide a list of approved instructing schools and qualified coaches. A phone call, email or private message on social media will help you answer any questions you may have.
Mobile Phone Water Proof Pouch
Carrying a means of ‘calling for help’ is essential whatever water sport you enjoy whether it’s at the coast or on inland water. The handheld VHF radio is our recommended ‘calling for help’ device, however, a fully charged mobile in a water proof pouch is also a viable option for calling for help. Being able to call for help if you get into difficulty or you see someone else in trouble is essential. Mobile phone pouch’s are relatively inexpensive to purchase via the internet or water sport retail outlets.
Internet for useful resources
The internet contains a whole host of valuable resources which can help increase your knowledge and safety whilst having at the same time enabling you to have a great time whilst on the water. Always ensure that your sources are the approved governing bodyclub or association for the relevant sport eg RYA, British Canoeing, British Kitesports Association etc.
Thank you for reading a stay safe out there!