Water Safety

Hello Nu Bear Community! I hope you’re doing spectacular. I know we are eager to be hitting the water again once it is warm enough. However, I want to talk to you about something that is very important as you explore new (or familiar) waters. We have been taught to be safe when it comes to all sorts of activities and day-to-day life, and being on the water is definitely a place where safety preparedness is key.


Whether you swim, surf, SUP, kayak, canoe, water ski, or anything else under the sun, making sure you are safe in the event of an accident or fatigue is so important. In a lot of areas, having floatation on you or at minimum on your watercraft is required by law. If you were to get knocked by a wave or hit a rock while on your paddleboard, you could slip off and be in the water in less than a second. What do you do if conditions aren’t favorable? Let’s discuss a few tips for water safety:


1) Practice makes permanent. My water safety instructor always used this phrase, saying practice can’t make you perfect (as there is always going to be room for improvement), but it can make your reaction and preparedness more permanent. Practice getting back onto your vessel in a controlled environment such as a pool or familiar pond. Ramp it up to a lake that may have small wakes from boaters, and try to never touch ground anywhere, as if you are in the middle of the ocean. If you cheat yourself in practice by pushing off a pool floor or lake bottom, you aren’t going to be fully prepared to get back up when you are in the middle of a body of water. Trying self rescues (and partner rescues) in multiple types of kayaks and watercrafts is really beneficial, as you may one day travel somewhere and rent equipment you aren't used to using, and knowing how to help yourself and others in various types of vessels is really vital.


2) Explore different aides for getting back in/on your vessel. For anything with a paddle, check out paddle floats. They roll up small and are easy to inflate and slip over your paddle to give you something to brace yourself on as you climb back up. Another option is a rope or strap that is made to give yourself a foothold as you work your way out of the water.




3) Learn different methods of reentering your vessel. This is especially true for sit in kayaks, where the cockpit may be small, the boat narrow, and conditions rough. Heel hooks, cowboy reentry, ladder, stern straddle, scramble, kayak roll, and many more reentry methods are easily accessible online for you to memorize and practice with a friend before going out unprepared. Additionally, learning a proper brace technique can be used to prevent capsizing in the first place.



4) Proper floatation can quite literally save your life.

While most coast guard and law enforcement requires you to have a floatation device on your boat and within reach, we recommend having it on you at all times. We understand that some of us are a bit more experienced, paddle in calmer waters, and may not feel the need to have a big bulky life vest on for an entire day of paddling. This is where a great product such as Restube comes in.

Restubes can be worn around your waist, and inflated at a moments notice with a quick tug on the ripcord. You can also inflate it by mouth, reuse it, and replace the small CO2 canisters when they have been used up. The bright yellow tube also serves as a way to make yourself more visible if you need help, or just need to make your presence known to a passing vessel. It packs into a tiny waist pack so that you won’t feel swallowed by a life vest, but still, have it on you in the event of an emergency.



5) As mentioned, making your presence known (especially in boat trafficked water) is extremely important. Wear bright clothing, try to have a vessel that doesn’t blend in too much with the surroundings, carry lights and whistles, as well as a small mirror to reflect the sun off of to draw attention. If you are free or scuba diving (or even snorkeling) off your vessel, make sure to have the appropriate flag to alert others of this.


6) Don’t go solo. While time on the water by yourself can be a very tranquil feeling, it isn’t safe. Get friends or family to join you, and always let someone know where you will be, and when you plan to be back on shore. If you must go out alone, try to go somewhere that has other people on the water as well in case you need help, capsize, get lost, etc. Also, grab yourself a waterproof case with a floating wrist lanyard in case of an accident.



7) Take plenty of fluids and snacks. Being on the water can really take the energy out of you, so taking water is extremely important. Having a protein/nutrient-rich snack is also a great idea. Please always remember to pack out all your trash and leave no trace of your presence, consider getting a Barrel Bag to take on your adventures with you to pack out your own trash as well as anything else that floats by.


8) Use a paddle tracking app or map your course in advance. Download tide chart apps and pay attention to the wind and water levels. I have guided kayak tours on the same river repeatedly, and depending on the tide, it can look like a completely different area.


9) Get a sticker (often given for free at kayak shops or by the coast guard) that has space for your information to be written on. Unfortunately, kayaks, surfboards, and paddleboards have washed up to shore with no owner, and nothing identifiable on board. Having a sticker with basic information can be extremely helpful for anyone that may be out looking for you.


10) Be smart. Don’t try whitewater areas, drastically changing tidal spots, mangrove forests, or go on side quests if you haven’t ever been before, and especially not if you are alone and have no cell phone signal. If you wouldn’t want someone you care about to be doing it, it is probably a good idea to sit it out.



That’s about all we have for now! There are still tons of tips for water safety, but we will keep it to these tips for now. Let us know if you liked this and would enjoy a part two, or if you have any other ideas! Feel free to reach out at hello@nu-bear.com and put “blog topic” in your subject line.

Until Next Time,

Tiki

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