▷ Is snorkeling dangerous ?
Snorkeling is the act of swimming with your head in the water to observe underwater flora and fauna. To extend the observation periods, a snorkel is used. To practice this increasingly popular activity: snorkel, mask, wetsuit and other accessories like water shoes depending on the water conditions and the objectives of the dive are on the list. Snorkeling is quite safe but there are always risks to be aware of. Although snorkeling is less risky than scuba diving, there are still dangers such as undercurrents, cramps, etc.
Before wondering if snorkeling is a risky activity, it is good to remember what snorkeling consists of, but also how and with what equipment it is practiced. This is what we will see in this first part.
What is snorkeling?
In more detail, snorkeling is an aquatic activity that allows a swimmer to look underwater while breathing through a tube that protrudes from the surface of the water. Much of the marine life and underwater beauty of the ocean can be seen by snorkelers floating on the surface of the water. Unlike scuba diving, you don't need as much equipment as air cylinders or buoyancy control devices. You also don't have to worry about decompression sickness from deep diving with compressed air. By using a snorkel for breathing, a swimmer can become more streamlined and float more easily while expending less energy.
Depending on where you go snorkeling, you can also effortlessly admire underwater marine life, such as coral, many varieties of fish, lobsters, sea turtles , etc. Resorts located along large bodies of water have marked areas for snorkelers to safely enjoy amazing underwater scenes. For example, around Hawaii, the Bahamas and other tropical regions you can find crystal clear water, a plethora of fish, sea turtles, kelp forests, amazing coral formations and many more. exciting discoveries.
Divers often equip themselves with a snorkel in order to save energy and air cylinders when traveling to their dive site. This is especially useful when launching your dive from shore. Although snorkeling can be a lot of fun and excitement, there are some dangers and risks associated with snorkeling that should be kept in mind.
Dangers of snorkeling
Going in a group is a safe way to enjoy snorkeling!
Is freediving dangerous? Snorkeling can be dangerous for the unprepared or for those with health problems. Sea currents and underwater hazards are a concern in some snorkeling areas. People with health problems such as heart, lung or epilepsy problems or even prone to panic attacks should consult their doctor or a healthcare professional before engaging in water activities. In the water, even professionals can suffer from problems such as cramps, exhaustion, heatstroke, dehydration, hypothermia, etc.
One of the best ways to lessen the dangers of snorkeling is to go with a group. The presence of at least one other person can make all the difference in an emergency. It is also essential to have the right equipment. Wetsuits come in a variety of styles and options. Wetsuits help retain body heat and can also provide buoyancy to help you float to the surface more easily. In addition to a wetsuit, you can also invest in quality gloves, boots, and fins. You can also choose water shoes to improve your mobility and ease in the water. Some shorelines feature sharp rocks and corals that the snorkeler must cross before they can put on their flippers and start swimming. It is among other things for this reason that the choice of water shoes is often more judicious.
Risks and dangers of snorkeling
There are underwater hazards that a snorkeler may encounter, such as coral, floating debris, cables, wires, nets, fishing lines, rocks , and even boats or buoys. Snorkelers can swim with a dive flag to warn others of their presence. You can also stay in designated snorkeling areas, if they exist. Bad weather and storms like hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones can cause waves and currents to kick up and reduce underwater visibility. In such cases, it is best to avoid snorkeling until the situation is safer. Large or strong waves can throw water into the snorkel unless you invest in special snorkels that have valves to keep water out or to make it easier to expel.
The sun also poses a risk for snorkeling, especially for those who swim without sun protection, such as sunscreen, UV protective suits or a wetsuit. Overheating, heatstroke and dehydration are also possible. The reverse is true in colder climates, where the ocean will cause you to lose body heat quickly, unless you're wearing a performance wetsuit. To top it off, it is also possible to encounter dangerous marine animals while snorkeling. As a general rule, if you respect the underwater life and keep your distance, you will avoid many problems. Sharks, snakes, jellyfish, lionfish or scorpions, pufffish, cone snails, octopuses and many other creatures pose a danger to humans underwater if they engage in them .
How to Reduce Snorkeling Risks
Snorkeling can be dangerous if you don't take into account some basic safety measures and if you don't anticipate. Most snorkeling hazards can be avoided with practice, training and the right equipment. You can train in safer environments, such as a swimming pool or a freediving center, under the guidance of a professional, in order to acquire the skills necessary to reduce the risks associated with this activity. Taking classes to practice these skills is also a great idea. Courses such as rescue diving courses will also prepare you to help those in need.
People with certain health conditions should consult a physician before snorkeling. It is advisable to stretch before and after snorkeling and to stay hydrated. Also check the weather forecast. For all of these reasons and more, it's a good idea to plan your trip in advance, always go with someone, and let others know where you'll be and when they'll be expecting you. Before snorkeling, it is essential to inspect your equipment. It is better to find a problem on the shore than in the ocean. Finally, after snorkeling, take the time to clean your gear, such as removing corrosive salt water from the ocean. Once you have acquired this basic knowledge, you can start enjoying the joys of snorkeling!
What equipment for safe snorkeling?
To go snorkeling, it is essential to have the necessary and suitable equipment for the experience to go as smoothly as possible. Below is a list of equipment deemed essential for snorkeling:
- A diving mask : to have good vision underwater, you absolutely need a mask that adapts well to your face. Note that snorkel masks come in a variety of sizes to fit different face types.
- A snorkel : this allows you to breathe air on the surface while keeping your face underwater. It's important to choose the right size snorkel and make sure it's comfortable to use.
- A pair of fins or water shoes : Fins help you move easily and quickly underwater.The water shoes will allow you to survey all types of soil and to calmly confront the marine beasts.
- Wetsuit : In some colder waters, you may need a wetsuit to keep you warm. Do not neglect this element, because it constitutes a real barrier against the cold.
- A flotation vest : If you are not an experienced swimmer or just want to feel safer, a flotation vest can help you stay on the surface of the water .
In all cases, it is important to choose equipment that suits your level of experience and the environment in which you are diving. Moreover, if you are new to snorkeling, it is recommended to hire a diving instructor to help you choose the appropriate equipment.
How to best prepare for snorkeling?
To prepare for snorkeling, it is important to take into account several factors such as safety, health, choice of equipment, and the environment in which you will practice. In this second part, here are some tips to prepare yourself as well as possible.
Beforehand, on your side...
Learn the basics. Before embarking on the practice of snorkeling, it is important to know the basics of this activity. You can train in safer environments, such as a swimming pool or a training center, under the guidance of a professional, in order to acquire the skills necessary to reduce the risks associated with this activity. Taking classes to practice these skills is also a great idea. Courses such as rescue diving courses will also prepare you to help those in need.
Consult a doctor. People with medical conditions such as heart or lung problems, seizures or panic attacks should consult their physician or healthcare professional before engaging in water activities. And if it is recommended for these people to consult a doctor before snorkeling, this is advice that can be generalized to everyone.
Equip yourself with the right gear. Make sure you have quality gear and the right size for a comfortable and safe snorkeling experience. You will need a mask (which fits your face well), a snorkel (which allows you to breathe easily), fins (which suit your skill level) and a wetsuit ( or a comfortable swimsuit. Test your gear before you go to make sure it fits properly and works properly.
Think about the conditions for snorkeling
Choose a suitable location. Select a location that suits your skill level and preferences. Avoid dangerous areas or those known to be habitats of dangerous creatures, or areas where there are boats, fishermen and windsurfers. Instead, choose a place where the water is calm and clear, preferably with little current, and a variety of marine fauna and flora.
Check weather conditions. Before leaving, make sure the weather is suitable for a sea trip. The goal is for everyone to come back alive!
Plan your outing in advance. By planning your trip ahead of time, you can go with someone and let others know where you'll be and when they'll be expecting you.
Then, on D-Day...
Inspect your equipment. Check that everything is operational, from head to toe. It is better to identify a possible problem on the shore or on a boat rather than at sea.
Follow the safety rules. Before you go, find out about local safety rules. Avoid swimming alone, follow the recommendations of local guides, do not underestimate currents or tides, wear a life jacket if necessary and stay close to shore.
Hydrate and protect your skin. Of course, drink to avoid dehydration. Also, don't forget to apply water-resistant sunscreen before you go, to protect your skin from UV rays, even with a wetsuit. You can also wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face.
Respect the marine environment. Avoid touching or disturbing marine animals, do not throw litter during your sea trip. It is essential not to damage the seabed more than it can already be in certain areas of the globe.
And after all that?
A snorkeling trip can last several hours, and casually quite sporty! As with any physical activity, it is advisable to stretch well after snorkeling and stay hydrated the water.
Finally, after your excursion, take the time to clean your equipment. So that it can last over time without being damaged, it is essential to eliminate, for example, corrosive salt water from the ocean.
What are the dangers of snorkeling?
Snorkeling, which involves swimming on the surface with a mask and snorkel to observe marine life underwater, can pose certain risks. It is always good to know about it before embarking on the practice of this activity.
Risks associated with equipment
A first category of risks that can be identified is that of equipment-related risks. Wetsuit, mask, snorkel, sunscreen: these are all things to pay attention to before going snorkeling. Indeed, the risks associated with the wrong equipment can be as follows:
- Asphyxiation: the snorkel should fit snugly to prevent water leakage, as water entering the snorkel can lead to asphyxiation.
- Sunburn: snorkeling can expose the skin to the sun for a long time, which can cause sunburn if the necessary precautions to avoid this kind of inconvenience have not been taken beforehand.
Risks associated with the human body
The human body can also be the trigger for the appearance of certain risks, which we have listed below so that you can have a general idea:
- Cramps: Muscle fatigue, repetitive movements and straining in the water can cause muscle cramps, even in professionals.
- Exhaustion: snorkeling can be physically exhausting, especially for people who are not used to regular swimming or swimming in salt water, or if the conditions are harsh.
- Hypothermia: swimmers can experience rapid loss of body heat if left in the water for too long, especially in cold waters.
Risks associated with the environment
And as with the practice of any activity, we must also not forget that the environment and its components can also present risks. Here are the main risks identified in the practice of snorkeling:
- Injuries: corals, rocks, and other underwater objects can cause injuries or scrapes if swimmers are not careful.
- Animal stings and bites: there is always a risk of stings and bites from marine animals. Indeed, some species of fish, jellyfish and other underwater creatures can be poisonous and cause painful stings.
- Drowning: Rather rare, drowning accidents can occur if swimmers are unaware of their surroundings or unable to hold their breath.
- Extreme Weather: Bad weather and storms like hurricanes, typhoons or cyclones can cause waves and currents to kick in, and reduce visibility underwater. And large or strong waves can throw water into the snorkel, unless you invest in special snorkels that have valves to keep water out or to make it easier to expel.
What solutions to mitigate the risks?
While several risks can be identified in the practice of snorkeling, it is also important to remember that there are solutions to address them. In this section, we try to provide you with advice on how best to mitigate these risks by category.
Mitigate the risks associated with equipment
To avoid suffocation, use a quality snorkel, and make sure your snorkel fits snugly and is the correct size. But also, take regular breaks to breathe fresh air, and don't hold your breath.
Against sunburn, no special secrets: anti-UV jersey or combination and sunscreen. Preferably choose a waterproof sunscreen with a high protection factor (SPF), also called protection index (IP), indicated on the product label.
Compensating for the risks associated with the human body
Concerning the risk of cramps and exhaustion, it is advisable to swim at a comfortable pace and take regular breaks. This, while avoiding prolonged activities and respecting its own limits. In addition, it is important to stay well hydrated regularly and to avoid swimming in difficult conditions or strong currents.
Finally, to avoid hypothermia, it is a question of choosing a good wetsuit so that you can swim without seeing your body temperature drop below the normal. To do this, take the time to compare several options to choose the one that seems best suited to you. Indeed, wetsuits come in a variety of styles and options for all climates. They help retain body heat and can also provide buoyancy to help you float closer to the surface more easily.
Mitigate the risks associated with the environment
About injuries, but also animal stings and bites: as said before, good equipment is essential. For example, a good wetsuit will prevent you from getting stung by a jellyfish.
That's why, in addition to a wetsuit, you can also invest in quality gloves, boots and fins. It is also advisable to use appropriate footwear to avoid injuries caused by rocks or sharp objects. You can choose water shoes to gain mobility and ease in the water. Some shorelines feature sharp rocks and corals that the snorkeler must cross before they can put on their flippers and start swimming. It is among other things for this reason that the choice of water shoes is often more judicious.
And of course stay away from areas known to be habitats of dangerous creatures. Also, follow local safety rules and listen to the advice of local guides. You'll be all the happier if you can avoid having to deal with sharks, snakes, lionfish, pufffish, cone snails, octopuses, or other such creatures. As a general rule, if you respect the underwater life and keep your distance, you will avoid many problems.
As for drowning, stay near the beach or rocks. Avoid swimming alone, rather swim with a friend or an experienced guide. Indeed, the presence of at least one other person can make all the difference in an emergency.
But also, be aware of the weather conditions, and wear a life jacket if necessary. Don't underestimate currents and tides, and keep in mind that you need to be able to adapt to weather conditions.
Why use water shoes for snorkeling?
Good shoes will help you improve your performance while ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience. If you've ever hit the beach in your regular outdoor shoes, you know how bulky and nasty they get when wet. Choose shoes specifically designed to make your snorkeling day as comfortable as possible:
- Protect yourself from cuts caused by sharp objects such as shells, corals and mussels.
- Walking on rocks and hot surfaces becomes a pleasant experience.
- Improve traction on slippery rocks and other wet surfaces
- In cold water, keep your feet wet.
- Strengthen the ankle.
- Thanks to the quick-drying materials, the shoe remains light, which means that your legs do not get tired.
Water shoes are unfortunately not always part of the equipment of the "snorkeler" but many people complain that the fins hurt their feet, and therefore wear water shoes.
There is also the problem of having to walk in the ocean on potentially dangerous sand or rocks that can slip or cut you; in this situation, a pair of water shoes can be helpful. Snorkeling shoes can also be used to secure you when snorkeling in small rock pools or more dangerous areas.
You can use water shoes when approaching the ocean from the beach or rocky areas where cut hazards such as sharp rocks and shells may be present. If you're snorkeling in a small rock field, pool, or cave, you'll have to climb over sharp, slippery rocks, and that's where your water shoes can come in handy.
What are the criteria for choosing a water shoe suitable for snorkeling?
There are several things to consider when looking for the best water shoes for snorkeling. Here are some things and features to keep in mind.
One of the most obvious things to think about is this. You can be assured of optimal comfort and enjoyment at the beach if you wear the correct size shoes.
The majority of water shoes are designed to fit men's shoe sizes. When buying them, women and children should be very careful and make sure that the shoe size corresponds to their actual size.
Instead of numerical sizes, some manufacturers use the terms small, medium and large, which can be even more confusing. For a size guide, look on their website or on reputable sites like Aquashoes.
Check if the shoe is properly sized. If your foot moves, it's the wrong size. The best water shoes should fit your feet perfectly.
Drainage and breathability
When shopping for water shoes, take the time to check out the materials used in their construction. As water shoes are used in both dry and wet environments, you need to ensure that they are soft, flexible and breathable.
Crushed feet, which can also lead to blisters, are the worst feeling to have when hiking. The best water shoes for snorkeling are those that are designed to shed water quickly. Your feet will get heavy if you don't.
Choose shoes that have a feature that allows water to escape. Drainage holes in the soles or porous upper materials are examples of such mechanisms. The majority of brands use water-resistant fabrics, including Lycra, neoprene, and mesh.
Remember that regular shoes are not designed for water activities and they will quickly become a hassle. They also tend to get heavy once they get wet.
This is the grip of the shoes on the ground. It depends on the sole design of your water shoes. Some water shoes have holes to allow water to drain away, while others have studs to improve grip. At Aquashoes, we have both!
If you're going snorkeling along rocky shores, choose shoes that have better grip. If you're going to a flat sandy beach, grip won't be a problem.
Quick-drying water shoes
Knowing how quickly your shoes can dry once you're out of the water is essential. You don't want your feet soaking wet all day. It all depends on the material used to make the shoes and their overall design.
Shoes made of synthetic materials that do not retain water are the best option. Water-absorbent fabrics, such as cotton, should be avoided as they can weigh you down. Also, make sure the shoe is made in a way that allows water to drain quickly and easily.
Easy donning / doffing
Look for features that will allow you to get the shoes on and off as quickly as possible and with the least amount of effort.
Stretch elastic fabrics or more or less sophisticated closing devices are generally used.
Easy on and off shoes save you a lot of time and effort. In fact, it's essential!
Dampening / shock absorption for comfort
Padding or shock absorption is important for comfort and safety. Choose shoes that incorporate firm, snug-fitting cushioning. In addition to providing comfort, the insole also helps with arch support. Shoes with large drainage holes should be avoided.
Finally, is snorkeling dangerous? Yes and no. This nautical activity presents several risks, which can however be avoided if well anticipated by the practitioners. Indeed, most of the dangers of snorkeling can be avoided with practice, training and the right equipment. In summary, snorkeling can be an enjoyable and safe activity if the necessary precautions are taken. It is important to know the potential risks and take the appropriate measures to avoid them.