PADDLERS SAFETY and SUPPORT TIPS
By Dean Sandell
Paddlers must be honest with themselves concerning their skills and abilities and have an understanding about the environment they are going into. Keep your body in good physical condition, and know how to swim!
Get Qualified Instruction. As little as an hour of instruction can significantly reduce chances of a serious incident. Learn CPR, learn Hypothermia Recovery skills and First Aid. Learn Self Rescue and Deep Water Rescue.
Think and practice safety on all waterways, all the time. Wear your life jacket, especially in cold-water conditions and in open water boat traffic. Don’t paddle alone, always with a partner and wear a Dry or Wet Suit. Dress in layers corresponding to changing weather conditions. Learn to read the waterscape, and know your ability in open water conditions.
Create a float/travel plan and leave it with someone. Include the time and place of launch, destination, take out, and estimated take out time, a description of your vehicle, License plate # and colors of the crafts being launched and used in you party. Paddlers must be prepared to accept the risks that come with the setting.
No Alcohol or Drugs. They do not mix with open water.
Maintain gear throughout the year. Learn to tie ropes and other tying materials. Avoid paddling at night. Use headlamps when needed. Use a spray skirt when there is wind and waves.
Storms, lighting, unstable weather and large boats
A person in 40 degree water will experience impaired judgment, numbness, loss of body control and movement, uncontrolled shivering, and potentially, loss of consciousness in as little as 12 minutes.
Stay close to shore when at all possible and remember the big ships have the right of way!