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  • Writer's pictureLaura Day

These Tips Could Save Your Life in the Surf

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

Learning how to surf and improving your skills is no simple feat. With all the variables that the ocean brings it can be frustrating to learn how to surf without consistent conditions. Some surf sessions can be mellow, fun, and easy while others can be challenging, scary, and even unsafe.

Like any sport, there are several risks involved when you’re out in the surf. Risks can range from small injuries like bruises to more serious head traumas and fatalities from drowning.

In Episode 03: 5 Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life in the Surf, we shared stories from our surf sisters about a time they almost drowned and felt unsafe in the water. If you haven't already, give this episode a listen. Between leashes breaking, to getting caught between rogue sets and wardrobe malfunctions, these stories will leave you gasping for air!

Through sharing these stories we found it imperative to share some lifesaving safety tips as well. Just in case you ever find yourself in a similar situation. So here are 5 tips that could save your life in the surf.

5 tips that could save your life in the surf:

1. Lady, Change your Leash!

OK, this tip could be a serious lifesaver. Never forget to change out your leash, especially before a big season. Over time the exposure to the elements will degrade the velcro, stretch the rope and make the hardware less and less secure.

As you heard in the episode, leashes can snap in dangerous conditions leaving you stranded. Don’t take this for granted and be sure to replace your leash when you notice signs of wear and tear. Shop for a quality leash and don’t waste your time and money on something cheap and low quality.

Also, be sure to replace the paracord that attaches your leash to your board. When you purchase surfwear at iaera surf, you'll also get a gold 550lb paracord so that you’ll be prepared when you’re ready to swap out your leash. We use this paracord as an alternative to plastic attachments keeping our product tags plastic-free! Check out our women’s surfwear at and get your complimentary paracord with each item you purchase.

Shop surfwear at iaera surf here.

2. Lady, Learn How To Swim!

This may sound obvious but it’s worth mentioning. Just because you’re attached to a board while surfing does not mean that it’s your lifeline. Having water confidence and being prepared in the instance that you lose your board could mean the difference between life and death.

You’d be surprised at how many surfers don’t know how to swim effectively and don’t feel comfortable out in the water without their surfboards. I’ll be brutally honest, I only took swimming seriously after losing my board on a big day. (listen to episode 03 for the entire story!)

You don’t have to be a pro but you should have enough experience to have confidence in the water without your board. If you’re not a strong swimmer I recommend getting in the pool and even taking a few lessons. The more time you spend swimming the more confidence you’ll build and the calmer you’ll be if you are separated from your surfboard. This will help prevent you from panicking, which is considered one of the first stages of drowning. So, learn how to swim and don't wait for a bad experience to scare you into doing it, start now.

With all this, it's important to note that you should never overestimate your water confidence or water endurance. Stay humble and continue learning about water safety. Learning how to swim is just one aspect of water safety.

3. Cover Your Head!

Before your surf instructor teaches you anything else, they should have taught you how to cover your head. Covering your head when you fall off your board can prevent serious injury.

Anytime you fall off your board and are coming back up you should have your head covered. You can do this by bringing your elbows up to eye-level and grabbing the back of your head with the palms of your hands. This simple, but effective tip can help prevent serious blows to your face, head, or neck from your board or someone else's. This little reflex could save your life. So practice this, every time you’re out surfing. No matter how small or safe you believe the conditions seem to be.

4. When In Doubt, Don’t Go Out!

Ok, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. We let FOMO push us into doing something we’re not comfortable with. This can happen with surfing too. You may get pressure from your friends or feel internal pressure to take a big step with your surfing you don’t feel quite ready for

If you know you cannot handle the conditions, simply don't go. Don't let anyone (including yourself) put you at risk. Of course, there will be times when you want to push yourself but trust your gut and don’t let anyone talk you into doing something you don’t feel ready for. If you have to sit a session out, know that your decision could be keeping you and everyone around safe and it’s worth it to wait for another day.

5. Know The Signal For Distress!

Knowing the hand signal for distress can let people quickly know that you need help. To do this, simply put one or both arms in the air and wave them back and forth to get someone’s attention. In instances where someone cannot hear you call out for them, this could give them a visual cue to let them know that you need assistance.

It’s worth mentioning that this wouldn’t make any sense if there wasn’t anyone around to help you in case of an emergency. This leads us to our bonus tip. No matter where you are in your surfing experience, don't surf alone and be sure there are other people present in case of an emergency.

Final Thoughts

While surfing is about having fun, safety comes first. The ocean is a powerful place and should be treated with the utmost respect. While some days out in the surf are fun and easy, other days at the very same break can be unpredictable and make for dangerous surf conditions. Be careful out there and stay vigilant of your surroundings. These 5 tips will help you stay safe while you're surfing but this is not an exhaustive list. Do research and always stay open to learning more about water safety.

Up next: have a listen to Episode 03 where you'll hear stories from surf ladies about a time they almost drowned and how they survived. Between leashes breaking, to getting caught between rogue sets and wardrobe malfunctions, these stories will leave you gasping for air! Now, If this post hasn’t inspired you to practice a few extra safety tips, I promise their stories will!

This post was inspired by Episode 03: 5 Safety Tips That Could Save Your Life in the Surf. In this episode 5 surf ladies share their near drowning experiences in the surf.

For more inspiring surf lady content listen to Episode 03 below or on all major podcast platforms.

disclaimer: Visitors who use this Site and rely on any information do so at their own risk.


Confessions of a Surf Lady Podcast is brought to you by The Surf Société.

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The Surf Société is our online women's surf community dedicated to empowering women in the lineup through progressing our surf skills, building confidence, and pushing ourselves in challenging surf conditions.

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