As we review the summer fun, we like to make sure that everyone remembers the safety aspects of stand up paddle boarding. The American Canoe Association has sponsored another great video from StandUpPaddlingTV.
This episode of stand up paddling TV is brought to you by the ACA, improving the paddle sports experience for over a century. Learn more at sup-aca.org.
One of the great things about stand up paddle boarding is that it can be a remarkably safe and user friendly activity. But it’s important to understand that because you’re on the water, when things do go wrong, situations can become very serious very fast. And so in this video, we’re going to look at a few important ways to keep your stand up paddling experience as safe as possible.
First off, you need to choose an appropriate paddling location for your skill level. The ideal stand up paddle boarding environment has protection from wind and waves, good access for launching and landing, plenty of places to go ashore and minimal boat traffic. Look for calm bays or quiet lakes and river ways without noticeable current. As a general rule, if you venture into water that isn’t protected from wind and waves, and/or if you travel further from shore than you can comfortably swim, you dramatically increase your risk.
Secondly, you need to wear a lifejacket when you’re paddling, in fact, paddle boards are considered a vessel by the US Coast Guard which means you need to have a life jacket and whistle on hand if you’re outside a swimming or surfing area. If you’re not a strong swimmer, or you can’t swim, it is definitely a great idea to wear an inherently buoyant life jacket. There are some great paddle specific models on the market that are comfortable to wear and won’t restrict your movement. If you are a swimmer, you can consider an inflatable life jacket. The most popular inflatable life jackets for stand up paddling are belt packs which are worn around your waist, but they’re also available as vests. If you do use a belt pack they’re best worn in front so they can be easily and quickly inflated if needed.
The third way to keep your SUP experience safe is to wear a leash. In fact, it can be argued that the board is your most important piece of safety gear. This is why a leash is such a key piece of safety equipment, because it connects you to your board with a strap. Unless you’re specifically paddling white water rapids moving water rivers, where your leash can become snagged on a rock, a branch, or even on the shore, it’s very important to wear your leash because if you ever do fall off it’s amazing how quickly wind and current can separate you from your board.
The forth and final stand up paddling safety tip, is to practice getting back onto your board from the water, before you need to do it for real. If you can’t confidently get back on your board from the water, then it only makes sense that you wear a full size life jacket and that you stay close enough to shore to swim in if you need to.
So there you have it, 4 easy ways to dramatically improve your safety on the water.