Water tubing safety
by Jenean McLoskey
One of my favorite water sports is tubing. For someone who isn't athletically inclined, it's fairly easy and doesn't require much work. I simply make sure I'm secure on the tube, hold on tight and then feel the rush of adrenaline as I ride the waves! It's exciting and unpredictable because I never know if I'll stay on my tube or fall off into the water (I usually end up falling in), and it forces me to brush up on my swimming skills. It's even more fun if I'm with a partner and we're in competition to see who can hold on the longest!
Usually when I'm tubing, I'm never concerned about safety because I'm with experienced boaters and other people who have been tubing for quite some time. However, there's no such thing as being too safe.
If you're a first time rider or just need a refresher, keep these safety tips in mind the next time you are getting ready to jump on a tube!
- Get familiar with your equipment. Make sure you know how much size and weight your tubing equipment can carry. It is also important to know if the manufacturer has any recommendations for age limits, the number of riders and towing speeds.
- Make sure the tow line is secure. Always double check the tow line to confirm it is securely tightened before you take off. If you see any signs of wear and tear on the rope, it needs to be replaced. Don't risk it!
- Designate a spotter. Since the boat driver is focusing on the water ahead, choose another passenger that can watch the rider and communicate with the driver. The spotter will look out for accidents and let the driver know when someone falls off the tube. It is also a good idea for the spotter and rider to go over hand signals for speeding up, slowing down and stopping.
- Consult the tube rider before you start. The driver and rider should have a chat beforehand so there aren't any surprises on the water. The rider should let the driver know what their limits are and how fast they are comfortable going. If there is more than one person riding, they should know how to position themselves on the tube so their weight is distributed evenly. This will help the ride go a lot smoother!
- Be cautious around wakes. The driver should always slow the boat down when crossing a wake. Driving through wakes at high speeds can be fun and bouncy, but it puts the rider at risk for serious injuries, especially if they are laying on their stomach.
- Wear proper safety gear. Regardless of the rider's age and swim level, they need to wear a life jacket. Make sure it's securely fastened so there's no chance it will slip off if they fall into the water.
- Know your surroundings. During the busy summer months, the water will most likely be packed with other boats. Before you begin tubing, the driver should find an area with open water you can claim for yourself. The entire experience will be a lot safer and more fun for all involved!
Lastly, enjoy the thrills and have fun! Tubing is a great family activity because it can be appropriate for all ages, and just as fun as water skiing or wakeboarding. If you've never gone before, I hope your mind is at ease and you feel prepared for what's to come. Stay safe out there!