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Water safety

Many Norwegians grow up with salt water in their veins and learn how to behave in boats and along the shore at an early age. Nevertheless, we all need tips to make sure stay we enjoy the water safely.

Think through boat safety and plan your trip before you go. Knowledge and planning reduces the risks and increases the fun. Always tell someone where you’ll be going, when you expect to be back, and what your boat looks like. If you’re leasing a boat, you should give your leasing agent this information. Ask the locals where it is safe to go and where the water is dangerous.

Bring the necessary equipment

All equipment on board the boat must be in good condition and easily accessible. Familiarize yourself with the navigation system and other technical equipment on board. Being able to use this equipment correctly will significantly increase your safety.

Remember to bring a mobile phone, preferably stored in a waterproof bag. This will enable you to report any changes in your plans or call for assistance if needed.

Keep visual distress devices on board, such as flares, orange distress flags, or lights.

Don’t forget to bring enough fuel.

Check the weather forecast

Check weather and water conditions before leaving shore. The weather can change dramatically within a matter of minutes, especially at sea. Respect the conditions and only set out when the conditions are suitable. Don’t stay out too long before returning to land.

Check the local weather forecast at, delivered by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). Download Yr’s free weather app for iOS or Android.

Follow the rules of the sea

There are rules that apply to boats on the water, just like for cars on the road. It’s important to learn these rules to avoid a collision and stay safe. Remember that safety, the environment, and the well-being of everybody is a common responsibility.

If you were born on 1 January 1980 or later, you must have completed a Yachtmaster Certificate of Competence (båtførerprøven) to pilot a boat over 8 metres in length or with more than 25 horsepower in Norwegian waters. Whilst not mandatory for those born earlier, it is strongly recommended that everyone complete the certificate. A similar certification from an EEA/EU country is acceptable.

Always wear a life jacket

It is mandatory to bring a life jacket on your trip, and it is recommended that you wear it at all times. Ensure that everyone wears a life jacket while on board.

Don’t drink and boat

Make sure you are rested and sober. The blood alcohol limit for a person piloting a boat in Norway is 0.08 percent. Remember that alcohol impairs your judgement and lowers your chances of survival in case of an accident.

Don’t overload your boat

Make sure the weight is evenly distributed, and don’t overcrowd the boat, as this will compromise the safety on board.

Man overboard

If someone falls overboard, it is important to get them back on the boat as quickly as possible. Even in summer, hypothermia can set in within minutes. If necessary, throw a flotation device to the victim, but do not jump in yourself. If the flotation device has a rope attached, or a flashing beacon, then so much the better. If you can’t to get the person out of the water, try towing him back to shore. Never leave anyone alone in the sea while going for help.

When the person is back on board, ensure that they change into dry clothes quickly. This is crucial to preventing further heat loss from the body, which will usually continue to cool for 15 to 20 minutes after getting out of the water.

Be careful in a rescue situation

When helping somebody into your boat, take care to not tip your vessel, especially if you’re in a small rowing boat, canoe, or kayak.

If your boat is overturned but still floating, don’t try to swim to safety, but stay near the vessel and await rescue. If you can, climb onto the boat, but be careful so that it doesn’t become unstable.

The tail of the Codfather

See the Norwegian Maritime Authority’s safety tips

Shores, rivers, and lakes

You can just as easily fall in from the shore, whether you’re by the coast, a lake, or a river.

Much of Norway's landscape is steep and wet, a combination which makes for some great rafting. But never go rafting on your own. A guide should always accompany you, as they have the equipment and the know-how to ensure safety.

If you’re wading in a river, assess the force of the current carefully. The water has a lot of momentum and may sweep your legs from under you before you know it. A wading staff might help you keep your balance.

If you lose your footing in a river and are swept downstream, try to maintain a sitting position in the water, with your legs stretched out in the direction you are going, to protect yourself from hitting rocks and boulders. Keep your feet high in the water so that they don’t snag rocks and debris on the bottom, which can drag you under if the current is strong enough. You can control your direction and angle by making swimming strokes with your arms.

Swimming and beach safety

Stay safe by following these simple rules of thumb.

1. Learn to swim.
2. Never swim alone or allow others to do so.
3. Don’t go swimming if you are hungry, have just eaten, or have been drinking alcohol.
4. Check the water level before diving.
5. Swim along the shore. Don’t swim directly below a dock or a diving board.
6. Don’t exceed your swimming ability. Know your limits and stick to them.
7. Never push others into or under the water.
8. Get out of the water if you feel cold or sick.
9. Call for help only if you are in danger.

Water safety for kids

Never leave a young child unattended near water. Don’t trust a child’s life to another child. Teach children to always ask permission to go near water and that they risk drowning if they overestimate their swimming ability or underestimate water depth.

Want some safe fun?

Countless lakes and rivers and an extensive coastline mean there are great opportunities for fishing, canoeing and kayaking, and rafting.

Take advantage of top offers

See our selection of trusted companies that work hard to make you happy all through your trip.

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