Words By: Alex Mauer
New river wave parks are popping up all over the world. With a new opportunity to surf inland, comes new surfers. With the sport being and new surfers being introduced, there has been a neglect for safety in the water. I just want to lay down some river safety guidelines to follow.
Disclosure: River Surfing is not ocean surfing. It may feel the same on the wave but there are many variable that make it different and dangerous in its own way. Follow the fallowing safety tips for a safer experience
Wear a helmet! This will save you concussions and save your life. The rivers are rocky and full of different hazards. You never know what is below the surface or what could float through the wave. You cannot control what you fall on or how you fall.
#2: PFD (personal floatation devices)
River currents can do weird things. Traditionally all paddlers on the river wear PFDs. I believe everyone who plays in the river should be wearing one. This will help keep you floating when the river current does something strange. If at any point you hurt yourself or lose consciousness the PFD will make a rescue easier as well.
Plus a PFD will help you save energy swimming in the river. Saving energy means you can surf longer. Just wear one. You can get lower volume vests that will make laying and paddling on your board easier.
Wearing a leash is dangerous. Your leash can wrap up on soothing in or on the river or riverbank and become an entrapment. The flow in a river never stops. There will never be an opportunity for you to free yourself. There has been a number of leash deaths worldwide. The only exception for wearing a leash on the river is a quick release leash, which can be helpful and allows you to release quickly if you become trapped.
#4 Tow Ropes
If you cannot catch the wave, you shou ldn't be surfing it. Never use a tow rope they can also become entrapments endangering everyone in the area. Practice on easier waves and eventually your skill will allow you to surf more and more waves.
#5 Never Surf Alone
Use the buddy system. Always surf with someone who you trust could save you from a dangerous situation or call 911 to have you saved. If you must surf alone tell someone where you are going and how long you will be out.