Water Safety for Newbies
Imagine this: you are on a once in a lifetime dream trip to Maui, Hawai’i, home of world famous beaches, surfing, and all of the whales, sea turtles and coral reef denizens that your little heart could desire, but there’s one problem: you’ve never been swimming in the ocean. You hear about all of the astounding ocean adventures to be had on Maui, but you feel a bit nervous about your safety in the big blue sea. Fear not, here at Trilogy Excursions we have prepared a quick guide to how to have the best time of your life on the water while maintaining safety. Read on to learn about water safety so you will be ready to choose your own adventure on the beautiful shores of our island home. 1. One of the most important parts of feeling safe on the ocean is choosing the right tour operator! This means going with a well regarded company that requires its crew to be CPR, First Aid, and First-Responder certified. Do a little research to make sure that you are going out on a boat with crew members that are well trained and ready for emergencies.
2. Whether it’s your first or 1,000th time in the ocean, always use the buddy-system while snorkeling or exploring in the water. It’s way safer and things are always more fun with friends.
3. Understand how the water is moving before jumping in. Check with your captain, boat crew, locals or do some background research on currents, wind and swell conditions prior to venturing out. If there is a lifeguard on duty, ask them to describe to you how the ocean conditions will affect swimmers and snorkelers, and whether it is a good idea to go out. Of course, snorkeling or ocean swimming has inherent risks, but it’s important to understand what you’re getting into. Remember- if in doubt, don’t go out.
4. Plan on wearing some form of flotation. Even if you are Michael Phelps, it doesn't hurt to have something on you that can save your life. On Trilogy Excursions catamarans we provide non-inflated vests that give our guests assurance without being cumbersome. These non- inflated vests don’t impede your ability to free dive or swim, yet are very handy in a pinch should you get tired, overwhelmed or need a break.
5. It’s a simple thing, but it’s important to know how to signal for help. Waving both arms above your head is a universal sign of a distressed swimmer. In case you or your buddy need help, be sure you both know the right signals to get the attention of others in the water or safety professionals. Also, don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you are worn out or if something is wrong; it’s way better for those around you than the alternative.
6. Know your self and let others know too! If you suffer from a weak heart, have just undergone some sort of major surgery, or are getting over an illness... think twice before going out for a long swim. Ocean swimming requires effort and at times, endurance. If you need the extra help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Options include using a boogie board to hold on to while snorkeling, or going out with a guide using flotation. It’s better to play it safe and make some great memories of your time in Maui Nui.
7. Keep it protected! Please remember to keep our precious coral reef protected. Ocean swimming is truly awesome…. and sometimes it’s so awesome you forget how long you've been swimming. This can result in a major sunburn. Do your skin a favor and wear a rash-guard while snorkeling. Purchase sunscreen that is labeled "reef safe." It is immensely important to bear in mind it NOT OK to stand on the reef to take a break. This will kill the already compromised fragile coral animals that make up the complex habitat for all the amazing sea life that call the coral reef home. Instead, make sure to have flotation with you in the water so that you can take a nice rest if you need it while floating and perhaps enjoy watching a turtle casually swim below you.
Mahalo for taking the time to learn about how to have the best time ever on the ocean while also making your safety a priority. For more water safety tips and for info on how to find swimming lessons around you, read more here.
All photos courtesy of Trilogy Excursions.
By Kelly Montenero