Bodyboarding is of the most popular board sports invented, with a reported 20 million surfers and bodyboarder’s across the world with the number on the increase. Every bodyboarder has her/his own reasons for taking up the sport, however, the mixture of physical exercise, increase in wellbeing and mental health; being at one with nature; and getting a great dose of sunlight and sea air appear to be some of the the main benefits. Numerous self-help groups across coastal area’s have sprung up using bodyboarding to combat mental health issues.
Lifeguards and Lifeboat Crews are regularly called out to assist and deal with incidents involving bodyboarders. Here are some safety tips to help you stay safe whilst having a fun time:
Top 11 Body Boarding Safety Tips
1. Body Boarding is much more fun with a mate – It is always better to surf alongside another person for safety sake incase one of you should get into difficulty
2. Let someone know that you’re going out, the location & what is the latest time you will be back – this is so important incase the HM Coastguard/Lifeboat have to start a search
3. Check out the tide times and weather forecast – there are plenty of free smart device app’s available to download for weather forecasting and tide times
4. Have you considered the dangers of rip currents? They are the cause of a significant number of lifeguard call-outs every year. More information on rip currents
5. Be realistic about your limits. Even the most experienced bodyboarders have been caught out in the past.
6. Grab some training. There are a multitude of approved bodyboarding schools across the country. Why not grab a few lessons yourself before you head out for the first time.
7. Always wear a leash – So you don’t become separated from your board. If you have got hold of your board you will have something to keep you afloat should you get into difficulty. It will also help lifeboat and Coastguard crews locate you more easily.
8. Wear the correct wetsuit – As well as keeping you warm, wetsuits will give some additional protection from rock scrapes or surfboard impacts.
9. Always think about other surfers and water users – learn about surfer etiquette and rights of way
10. Know who to call in a coastal emergency – If you see or hear someone or an animal that you think is in difficulty in the water dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard straight away.
11. Bodyboard between the red and yellow flags – the lifeguards are an excellent source of local knowledge eg hazards, tide times, weather forecasts, injury prevention amongst others. The RNLI indicate that “British and Irish waters are incredibly unpredictable and one of the biggest dangers with bodyboarding is surfing outside of the red and yellow flag lifeguarded area, outside of lifeguard hours”.
RNLI lifeboat crews launched 18 times to bodyboarders in trouble in 2016. In addition, RNLI lifeguards went to the rescue in 883 bodyboarding related incidents. Over half of these incidents incidents involved rip currents.