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5 Essential Rowing Safety Tips

Posted by Luke Green

At Red Original, we jump at any chance to get out on the water and one of our favourite watersports has got to be rowing. One of the things we love most about it is how versatile an activity it is, as you can enjoy rowing at a leisurely pace or really go for it should the mood take you. Another thing to appreciate about this ever-popular watersport is that it’s a relatively low-intensity upper-body exercise that can be used to improve your strength and stamina, all the while taking in some truly breathtaking natural scenery.

This doesn’t mean that rowing is bereft of dangers though and as with any water-based activity, caution should always be maintained. After all, ‘prevention is better than cure’, as they say, so staying alert in order to avoid hazards is undoubtedly the best recourse. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to foresee every possible eventuality and some hazards have a way of sneaking up on you, which is why making sure you have the correct clothes and safety equipment is also key.

Below are just a few tips to ensure you’re prepared to safely take a rowing trip out to sea or on any other body of water.

Vessel Maintenance

Always do a quick spot check for leaks and damages before setting out. Even if you are practically certain that everything is in great condition, it’s worth taking a few moments just to make sure. To follow up on this, it’s also good practice to ensure you have a small repair kit on board just in case of any mishaps. The contents don’t need to be exhaustive but a small waterproof pouch or deck bag holding some glue, tape, and repair shield should make sure you have the basics for any field repairs.

Plan Ahead

You should never head out onto any water without carrying out at least basic prep beforehand. This includes checking the weather forecast, deciding a route, and letting people know where you are going. Checking the weather is essential, as doing so should allow you to effectively plan ahead. For example, if the conditions are going to be changeable and you’re planning a sea excursion, it might be best to delay your trip by a couple of days. The same goes for knowing your route and destination, as well as informing others so that they are aware of roughly where you’re going to be. Ideally, you want to be somewhere that can be reached quickly and easily in the unlikely event you need help.

Safety Equipment

When it comes to rowing there is nothing more important than making sure you have adequate safety equipment. Obviously you never want to be in a situation where you have to use it but the peace of mind alone is well worth the investment. Keeping a torch or some other light-emitting device is key on an unpowered boat, as is maintaining contact with the outside world through either a well-charged mobile phone or at the minimum a whistle or some other noise-making device.

You should also always have a personal floatation device for each boater. This can literally be the difference between life and death and the importance of having one that feels comfortable to wear whilst being easy to use cannot be overstated. Airbelt PFDs are our solution to this problem as they stay compact and are reusable, giving you maximum freedom and comfort, without skimping on safety and practicality.

If you’ve invested in a waterproof pouch like the one mentioned above, we also recommend that you use it to bring your phone out onto the water with you. Phones will be safe and protected within the waterproof pouch and having it close to hand will allow you to call for help should anything go wrong. If you happen to use GPS Locator apps like Life360 or Sygic with your friends and family, your phone’s GPS can also be used to find you in case of an emergency.

Maintain Concentration

It can be easy, and enjoyable, to relax while you’re out rowing but you should always remain alert for any possible dangers. This means keeping an eye out for natural hazards and other people, you don’t want to ruin your day out or theirs because of a lapse in concentration. It also means making sure you maintain your regular rowing technique and seating positions. You want to stay seated as much as possible to avoid shifting too much weight to either side, risking the boat overturning.

Stay Hydrated

No list about watersport safety would be complete without mentioning the need to stay hydrated. Ensuring you have an ample supply of water with you will allow you to avoid countless potentially dangerous situations, as dehydration can lead to dizziness, physical fatigue, feelings of nausea, headaches, and other unpleasant sensations. Feeling any one of these or, worse still, a combination while on the water can cause an otherwise pleasant outing to go downhill fast, so make sure you bring an insulated water bottle or two full of cool (but not ice-cold) water along with you.

Moisture-wicking clothing can also help to prevent you from becoming dehydrated, as they help to keep the body cool and reduce sweating. Obviously, moisture-wicking clothes are no substitute for water, but by reducing the amount of the body’s water being lost through sweat, they can help to make the bottled water you have got stretch a little further. As the English say, ‘every little helps’.