If you love snorkeling, and you’ve tried it before you know that there are many things that can go wrong when you are out there. If you want to be able to fully enjoy your snorkeling trips, you need to make sure you and your family or friends are100% safe by avoding snorkeling injuries. This means taking some precautions and following some rules. Most importantly, before we even start talking about safety and ways to prevent injuries we need to stress how good snorkeling gear is essential.
What are the most common snorkeling injuries?
Sometimes, no matter how well prepared you are, injuries happen. The best way to deal with safety concerns in snorkeling is prevention, but you must also be prepared to act fast if problems do appear.
Here is a list of snorkeling injuries you are probably most at risk for when you go out snorkeling:
Cramps are a commonly experienced problem among snorkelers. If you ever experience a cramp during your swim, position yourself with your head above water. Try to relax your muscles and rest to regain your energy. Most importantly, always let your companions know that you are having problems before it causes you to panic. This way, they can help you swiftly and effectively.
2. Injuries caused by marine life
While diving, always keep in mind that you are a guest in an unknown environment. This mostly means following a simple rule “look but do NOT touch”.
Keep your distance from wildlife, most of it will also avoid contact with you. However, some creatures may fell threatened if you come too close. Most injuries from underwater creatures are a direct result of unintentionally making yourself look like a threat.
3. Jellyfish sting
Jellyfish stings are in fact one of the most common snorkeling hazards you may encounter. Because they are a rather big problem, we decided to separate them in the list from common encounters with marine wildlife.
A sting from a jellyfish can be severe and may even scar your skin. The pain is caused by their venom which is subsequently released when the cell ruptures. For this reason, it’s important that you never touch the affected area.
If you got stung by a jellyfish avoid rubbing the area and do not clean it with mineral or tap water, rinse the spot with sea water instead. Finally, pour special jellyfish sting treatment or vinegar over the injury and apply dry powder over the area. Again, remember it is important that you never touch the affected area.
4. Stepping on a sea urchin
Another frequent snorkeling injury is accidentally stepping on spiny creatures.
The spines can puncture the skin and break off in your foot. In this situation, the best advice is to go to the hospital. If you can’t get to the hospital immediately, place the hurt part of your body in hot water for at least 30 minutes. Keep the water as hot as you can bare and constantly top it up as it cools down.
It’s very easy to forget all about time when you are in the water, having fun. However, it’s really important to know that prolonged exposure to cold water can often cause mild hypothermia. Hypothermia appears when the body temperature falls below 95ºF (35º C) and can be fatal when the core body temperature falls below 86ºF (30º C). It’s extremely important that you are trained to recognize the signs of hypothermia before it becomes a threat to your safety.
Seek medical help if the following symptoms occur:
- uncontrolled shivering
- decreased heart rate
- blue skin complexion
- dilated pupils
- signs of poor judgment
- confusion and drowsiness
6. Coral Cuts
Another very common injury for snorkelers is related to corals, that can cut pretty badly. So, in order to avoid such injuries pay extra attention to the environment around and most importantly, beneath you.
If you happen to cut yourself in a coral make sure to scrub your skin with soap and water and then flush with fresh water. If the wound stings, rinse with vinegar or alcohol.
Most importantly, consult a doctor to prevent infection.
CHILD SAFETY WHILE SNORKELING – how to avoid injuries when you go out snorkeling with your kids
1. When snorkeling with kids, it’s really important to know what is safe to touch and what could cause a serious injury.
Children are naturally curious by nature and usually, they want to touch whatever they see. Teach your kids about underwater creatures such as corals, seashells, sea urchins, eels and everything else. Most importantly teach your children to avoid contact with unfamiliar creatures
2. When picking the perfect snorkeling spot avoid places with murky waters.
When your kids don’t see underwater they might accidentally step on one of the dangers listed above.
3. Never let your kids snorkel on their own.
Always go in the water with them and keep a close eye on their every move. They might feel frustrated with your constant vigilance, but better to have a pouting kid than an injured one.
4. Make sure your kids know how important it is to get out of the water when they feel cold.
Children love water and they adore to play in it. Most of the time they are not even aware for how long they have been in the ocean or just how cold the water is. This can cause hypothermia and many other serious problems. According to this article on WebMD, young swimmers are more susceptible to hypothermia than adults.
5. Keep your children close to shore no matter how good swimmers they are.
Kids tend to often misjudge their own capabilities and endurance. This can mean trouble if they become exhausted when far from the shore. It’s also really important to make sure they’re equipped with snorkeling vests, for extra safety.
6. To avoid coral or rock injuries try to avoid snorkeling in shallow rocky areas.
As described in the section about injuries, coral and rock cuts are definitely not something you would want your kid to experience.
The best way to treat these frequent snorkeling injuries is prevention.
7. Purchase proper equipment suited for children.
A good snorkeling set can make all the difference in the world for your little one to enjoy his or her snorkeling experience to the fullest.