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Friday, 08 June 2018 15:08

12 Canoe, Kayak & SUP Paddling Safety Tips

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Heading out for a paddle on a canoe, kayak or standup paddle board? Advance preparation helps to ensure a safe trip. Follow these 12 safety tips to help you enjoy safe paddling: 

  1. Be aware of weather conditions and water temperature. Be prepared for weather changes as well as the possibility of a capsizing.
  2. Wear and bring the appropriate gear for your climate. Bring the appropriate clothing and gear to protect yourself from hypothermia should you capsize in the water. Also, bring warm gear for unexpected weather changes.
  3. Beware of off-shore winds that make it difficult to return to shore.
  4. Always follow the boating rules of the area in which you are paddling.
  5. Never mix alcohol or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) with paddling.
  6. Do not exceed the weight capacity of your boat.
  7. Always check your equipment for wear and tear before you paddle.
  8. Seek qualified instruction to learn proper paddling techniques, water safety and basic first aid.
  9. Brush up on self-rescue skills - first in calm, warm, shallow water and, as you gain experience, in more extreme conditions.
  10. Wear your personal floatation device. You may not know when you could capsize when paddling a canoe, kayak, SUP or raft. Coast Guard regulations require that all kayaks have a lifejacket on board. Wearing your properly fitted lifejacket will help keep your head above water and add insulation to your body, keeping you warmer in cold water. 
  11. Tell someone your paddle plan, which indicates where you are going, what you will be doing, how long you expect to be gone and how many people are in your party. Then stick to your plan.
  12. Check weather and tides before kayaking on the ocean.

A few more paddling tips:

  • When paddling in the surf zone or in rapid water always wear a helmet.
  • When paddling in a new area, check currents, shoreline conditions and weather patterns before you go. 
  • Plan an "escape" route - an alternative place to get off the water should environmental conditions dictate it.
  • Bring a fully charge mobile phone in a waterproof pouch so that you can call for help if needed.
  • Weather can change suddenly. Install a weather radio app on your mobile phone to receive weather changes and warnings while you are on the water.

Canoe, SUP, Raft Safety Tips

The American Canoe Association (ACA) recommends that you also practice these safety tips before you head our for you next paddling adventure:

  • If you haven't done so yet, take an on-water safety or skill development course. Taking an ACA on-water instruction course provides the information you need for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, rafting or safety & rescue.
  • Practice and Observe the Rules of the Road. Learn what you need to know when paddling the waterways.
  • Use the Paddler's Safety Checklist - Tips for pre-trip planning and on water behavior and etiquette.

The following resources may also keep you safe during your paddle:

Planning ahead will help to ensure that your trip on the water is safe and enjoyable. Be safe, and have fun!

Sources:, ACA

Read 2381 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 July 2018 16:40
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