A guide to sea safety

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A man and woman kayaking in the sea

If you’re off on a beach holiday and want to take part in any water sports, go on a boat trip or just swim in the sea, it’s important to know the measures you should take to stay safe.

Staying safe in the sea

Wherever you’re swimming, even if the sea looks calm, it’s important to follow a few rules.

  1. Read and follow the instructions on any beach safety signs.
  2. Don’t swim after drinking alcohol or taking drugs.
  3. Make sure a friend or family member knows where you are.
  4. Always follow the instructions of lifeguards on the beach.

Rip currents 

A rip is a strong current that can quickly pull you out to sea. They can be hard to see but they’ll typically look like a channel of water that’s especially choppy. 

It may also look brown or darker than the surrounding water: this is because it’s picked up sand or sediment from the shore.

Lifeguarded beaches will usually have red or yellow flags placed to show where it’s safe to swim and they’ll constantly monitor this area. If you’re caught in a rip, raise your hand and call for help. 

You should always swim across a rip rather than against it. Only swim back to shore when you can no longer feel the current (if you’re able to). 

Boat trip safety 

When abroad, it’s popular to hire a small private boat for the day, head off on a ‘booze cruise’, or even charter a larger boat with its own captain.

Whether you’re steering the boat yourself or have professionals on hand, there’s still safety measures to follow:

  • don’t jump from a moving boat – make sure you’ve stopped before getting into the water
  • stay clear of the engine – the engine or propeller should be turned off if you’ve stopped but don’t swim close to them
  • be aware of nautical rules and regulations – watch out for buoys and be aware of other boats or people in the water

Water sports safety

There’s a long list of water sports people often do abroad, including water skiing, wakeboarding, and banana boating.

Here are a few tips on how to stay safe while taking part in water sports:

  • research the company who’s running the activity – check reviews and make sure they’re a reputable business
  • make sure you’re given a life jacket – check that it looks in good condition and it’s the right fit for you
  • listen carefully to the safety procedures – these instructions are given for a reason, so it’s very important to pay attention to them
  • don’t take part if you’ve drunk alcohol – alcohol will dull your senses and reaction times, so you should never do water sports with it in your system

Water sports and insurance

Whatever activity you’re doing, it’s important to have some kind of water sports insurance to make sure you’re protected if something does go wrong.

Your travel insurance policy should include a certain amount of cover for accidents or injury. For instance, our policies cover surfing, wakeboarding, banana boating and more as standard. 

Your policy book will include a list of everything that’s covered. If an activity you’re interested in isn’t on the list, you’ll need to discuss with your insurer before you take part.

For certain especially hazardous activities, you may need to pay an extra premium to cover it. Some activities might not be covered at all. 

Whatever you’re doing, insurers won’t cover you if you’re injured due to reckless behaviour. This includes being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or not following the safety procedures.

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