Please take a look at these great lessons assembled by some really studly paddlers, ocean enthusiasts and coast guard reps. Remember...conditions are fun...until they aren't.1. PERFORM AN HONEST RISK ASSESSMENT.
- “How much wind is too much?”
- “Is the direction of the wind safe?” Is the wind carrying me away from shore?
- “In the event of an accident, injury or breakage what is the abort/exit strategy. Is this abort strategy safe?”
- “Who am I putting in harms way?”
- A functioning life jacket that is attached to you, not to your canoe.
(How to choose a PFD or LIFE JACKET)
- A leash securely tethered to your canoe.
(A LEASH. The importance of "how" to put it on...and take it off!)
- Proper clothing to survive hypothermia should you end up in the water.
- Wear bright clothing, ideally featuring reflective strips.
Invest in a Marine VHF Radio.
(THE VHF RADIO GUIDE - Demystified)
The VHF radio should be DSC-equipped (digital selective calling) and be GPS enabled. If a paddler hits the panic button, the U.S. Coast Guard will automatically know who the paddler is, get the exact GPS position, and know the paddler is in distress.
Make sure you register that radio with proper contact information. In the event of a Distress Signal, authorities rely on that contact info as they develop a search plan.
- Invest in a satellite based personal location beacon. “A properly registered EPIRB takes the search out of search-and-rescue,” says Sandy Needle, Coast Guard Search and Rescue
Make sure someone knows:
- Where you are departing from
- What your planned route is
- When you depart
- When you expect to arrive. It is recommended you have a cut-off time when the person who you’ve entrusted with your float plan will alert authorities.
Download our paddler specific float plan.4. THE BUDDY SYSTEM
- Stay together. If something catastrophic occurs, stay together.
- Tail End Charlie. When paddling in groups of various skill levels, the most experienced and confident paddlers should start behind and stay behind. It is easiest to provide assistance when approaching downwind. It is easiest to spot someone in distress when they are in front of you.
5. PUT YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION PROMINENTLY ON YOUR CANOE.
6. HEED WEATHER WARNINGS
Be sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
Something we missed? Let us know and we will update to include it.
Paddler Resources - Check out many more articles on safety and checking, and paddling in conditions here.