Standup paddleboarding can be a fun and relaxing way to enjoy nature, and it is also a great form of exercise. It is also a very safe water sport compared to many others, but that does not mean that accidents and emergencies don’t occur.
It is important to understand ways to stay safe while paddleboarding. Here are seven tips to keep you and your loved ones safe while you enjoy the fun of SUP.
Always wear a lifejacket
This is likely the most important safety rule you could follow when paddleboarding. Wearing a lifejacket is a lifesaving measure that can keep you safe in an instant when something goes wrong. A lifejacket can determine whether or not a situation becomes fatal.
Even the most experienced swimmers and paddleboarders may find themselves in a situation where they cannot keep themselves safe. You might think you are the exception to the rule, but you are not. Nearly all fatal paddleboarding incidents involve not wearing a lifejacket, so make sure it is always packed for your SUP trips.
You may think that, as long as you stay in shallow water, you do not need one. This is also not true. First of all, wearing one at all times will make it a routine in your SUP adventures. Also, large bodies of water can be dangerous and unpredictable. You never know what can happen.
Make sure you have all the equipment you need before you set sail
In addition to your lifejacket, there are several other pieces of equipment that you want to make sure you have with you every time you go out on the water. This equipment may vary depending on the environment you’re paddling in. For example, if you are in calm water, you will want a coil leash. In a surf zone, do NOT use a coiled leash, as it will cause your board to fly back at you, which can be a hazard. In more extreme water environments, like a fast river, you want a quick release leash.
You may also need different clothing depending on the water temperature. In colder water, you need a full body wetsuit to protect yourself from the frigid temperatures. In hotter temperatures, you may opt for less clothing — but then sunscreen and bug spray may be essential.
So, make sure you make note of where you’ll be paddling and ensure you are prepared for that environment.
Speaking of leashes…use them
It can be easy to think that you are in a calm, safe environment and therefore the leash is not necessary. As with the lifejacket, the leash is an important piece of equipment that can be used as a lifesaving device in certain situations, and these situations can come up in an unpredictable manner. Attach the leash to your body even when you feel incredibly safe and prepared. It will ingrain the idea in your head, and it will keep you prepared for any turn of events.
Wearing your leash also protects those around you. If you fall off your board, the impact could send the board swiftly toward someone else. It could hit their board and knock them off, or hit their body and injure them. Remembering to attach the leash keeps everyone safe.
Understand your experience level
Whenever you are participating in any water sport, you should assess your limitations and understand them intimately. As a beginner, it may be tempting to try to keep up with more experienced paddlers around you, but it can create an unsafe environment for everyone when you do so. Go at your own pace, start in calm and empty areas, and don’t overexert yourself. It really is not worth it, because you never know what can happen.
If you are not a beginner, you should still always be aware of your surroundings when trying new things on your board. While you might begin to feel more at ease, you should always keep your guard up and only do what you are intimately comfortable with unless you are in a calm and empty environment.
Don’t go out alone
This rule applies mostly to paddling environments that aren’t as easy to navigate — though it really is important to try to always make sure there are others around. You might be tempted to stray away from areas where there are other people, but it is so much safer for you to paddle around others. This is especially true if you are paddling on fast rivers or in whitewater areas. Not only should you be paddling in the presence of others, but you should really consider bringing at least one buddy in these situations.
If anything happens, you will be able to help keep each other safe.
Check the weather before you go
In order to feel fully prepared for the day, you should check the weather before you head out. The last thing you want is to unexpectedly be caught in bad weather. The consequences can range from slightly irritating to serious and sometimes fatal.
Say you’ve prepared for a calm day paddling at sea, but a storm appears. This can kick up some gnarly waves that can be hard to navigate and could even seriously injure you. Storms can also be disorienting, making it harder to get back to safety if you aren’t able to see clearly or understand where you are.
This is especially important when you are paddling in saltwater environments, because it is much more likely you will become dehydrated from all of the salt in the air. Bring a large jug of water with you and ensure that you are drinking it consistently.
In the same vein, consider bringing some snacks! Making sure you are well fed and well hydrated will keep you thinking clearly and feeling strong so that you can navigate through your SUP adventure and continue to enjoy yourself the entire time.
While paddleboarding accidents are rare, they do happen. It is so important to make sure you are taking the proper steps to ensure your safety along the way. When you know you are as safe as possible, it is easier to unplug and truly enjoy your time out on the water.