How Dangerous Is Surfing? Let’s Find Out

Who wouldn’t enjoy the thrill of riding the waves or observing fellow surfers gracefully navigate through the challenging conditions of the water? Along with the stoked moments you witness, there are certain dangers attached to surfing that might scare you off a little!

Surfing is a fun sport that is played with pure passion and helps improve your mental and physical health. If you really wanna enjoy surfing, you must first learn to practice caution.

Look around yourself a little more carefully. If you're like a cat with water, then maybe you need to develop your connection with the ocean first. Don’t just paddle out in the sea; clueless about what you're doing and what hazards you might face.

With all the dangers involved, the chances of death while surfing are pretty low. According to the National Library of Medicine, the risk of injuries and mishaps is declining despite the increasing number of surfers thanks to the high-tech surfing gear and increased awareness about the sport among surfers. 

However, you need to be careful when you step foot in water as Mother Nature might get grumpy sometimes. The ocean is all yours if you learn to tackle the waves and hazards involved.

Check out some of the dangerous aspects of surfing and how to deal with them like a true surfer.

Help, I’m drowning!

You must’ve heard stories of surfers encountering near-death experiences. Whether you fall on sharp reefs or experience being wiped out by powerful waves, you end up underwater for a few minutes that feel like forever. A pretty scary moment if you're not a good swimmer. 

Drowning is the most obvious danger when you engage in any water-related sport. Surfing requires you to be in the ocean all the time.

Not to get all sciency, but the fact is, the ocean is highly unpredictable. You never know when that wave suddenly closes out or smashes you brutally straight into the water with its raw power.

Other factors that can affect your surfing session are weather, tides, wind, and even the ripples caused by ships wandering near the bay.

Unfortunately, some waves are just too strong to counter. Yes, you can duck-dive your way through a large wave. But sometimes, the pulling force of a wave can be so overwhelming that you may find yourself scrambling to reach the surface of the water for air. 

What you should do: Learn to swim. 

If you have the skills to steer yourself free from strong currents, then you can confidently continue surfing.

Being a good swimmer allows you to observe the condition of water and find your way out of strong rips, currents, and tides. In short, you don’t get a panic attack underwater.

Swim, sharks! 

You may have watched several movies about these ocean predators. And yes, you’re right to fear them. 

The ocean is the shark’s natural habitat. And you, a human being from the land, is an invader.

Naturally, when met with an unfamiliar face, sharks will react indifferently to you. You may end up being in an actual Jaws movie — being ripped apart by inches-long teeth. 

According to stats, the chances of getting killed by a shark are extremely low at 0.000027%.  Although the chances are slim, sharks are still considered risk factors in surfing

What you should do: Be knowledgeable about the ocean you’re in.

Researching is important. You need to identify shark-infested areas since that will serve as your cue to prevent these spots. 

However, there may be instances where these ocean creatures end up in regions they are not meant to be. 

If this happens, these life-saving tips may help you:

Do not go into the water with an open wound. 

Shiny jewelry should never be worn.

Avoid murky waters.

Veer away from areas between sandbars. They are sharks’ preferred spots to hang out.

There is more to it than sharks

If you think sharks will be the only marine life capable of exposing you to harm, then you’re wrong. There are plenty of other species that make the ocean more threatening.

Sea snakes, corals, jellyfish, stonefish, and other venomous ocean creatures pose a risk to anyone who comes in contact with them (and surfers are no exception). 

The sting from these sea animals inflicts varying degrees of damage to your body. Check out how this otter terrorizes surfers in Santa Cruz.

What you should do: Seek medical attention.

In the event you get stung by any sea creature, the best thing to do is to have yourself checked by a medical professional. They will perform procedures to keep you from harm. 

There have been many cases of people victimized by venomous sea animals. They come unexpectedly, and as a surfer, you need to be ready for them. If you have the swim skills to avoid them, that would be for the best. However, if the worst happens, medical care is needed. 

More surfers, more dangers 

If you can find an isolated surfing spot where you can enjoy the surf all by yourself, then Yay! But to find that peaceful place, you have to travel far and wide, searching every corner of the world. That ain’t too bad if you love traveling.

But most people don’t have the time or money to do that. They rely on beaches nearby. Surfing is a popular sport. You will mostly find the line-up overcrowded by surfers. It's not too bad, though, if you know how to paddle fast.

During the summer, surfers — both newbies and veterans — flock to the same areas. When there are hundreds of people converging to a common area, especially for an agile sport like surfing, running into other people is certain. Crowded areas attract collisions.

Damages may include scrapes, head bumps, body wounds, and other similar injuries. As per a study, “ Cuts take the lead at 42% while fractures have the lowest rate of 8%. 55% of wipeouts occurred as a result of getting smashed by a board while the rate of head and neck injuries are around 37%.”

What you should do: Wear protective gear.

Even if it’s not visually pleasing, wearing a helmet can help you prevent blows to the head (which can happen a lot).

It is also advisable to equip protective gear to your board. This can protect you and other unsuspecting surfers like you in case of impacts. 

If you’re unfortunate enough to suffer an accident with another surfer, you need to seek immediate treatment from medical professionals. This will be the only way to prevent further complications.

Surfing is Risky…But You Can Make a Difference

Talk about any sports in the world, and you’ll see cases of accidents and injuries where participants nearly died. And when it comes to surfing, it’s definitely not a walk in the park. But with all the risks involved, these champs are not afraid to take on challenges, get hurt, and go back surfing as soon as they are back on their feet.

If you want to become a pro surfer, you must dedicate your time to learning and educating yourself. Develop skills that separate you from others and save you from potential hazards the sea has to offer.

When you have the power of knowledge and skill in your hand, there is no stopping ya. The ocean and the surf are all yours.

A final word of caution: Surfing can be dangerous. But only if you remain ignorant of its hazards. Otherwise just chill out and have fun catching those awesome waves.

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

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