Paddleboarding is a great way to get outside and enjoy the water. However, it is important to remember that paddleboarding can be dangerous if safety precautions aren’t taken. In this article, we will discuss important tips for paddleboard safety that will help keep you safe while enjoying your paddleboarding adventures!
Paddle Alongside A Friend
The first tip would be to bring in a friend or partner. Like anything else, stand-up paddleboarding is can be a lot more enjoyable when done with a friend, but also much safer.
It’s always fun to bring along someone to participate in the experience and create memories, but having an extra set of hands on hand in case of emergencies is also a plus.
Injuries and accidents are possible and do occur, so it’s safer to travel in groups.
Have Personal Floatation Device
Among the most crucial paddleboard accessories is a Personal Floatation Device.
Putting a PFD on is always recommended since, even though you are a great swimmer, there are situations where things can occur rapidly and you might not have any opportunity to put it on securely and properly.
Some of those situations include:
- In cold weather or when the water is cold
- Any accident which results in a head bump, or injury (this is really anytime on a paddleboard)
In addition, there are many bodies of water where PFD’s are required by the local authorities.
Do your research because there are many different PFD types.
Consult the salespeople at local sports equipment stores for help selecting the best PFD for you. When you buy locally, search online, and inquire with the local government authorities about any unique rules and legislation about PFD needs.
You can often learn more about safety tips for paddleboarding and boating at these equipment shops.
Have A leash Attached To The Paddle Board
A leash is yet another important piece of stand-up paddleboard safety equipment.
If you have a leash on your SUP, you can reach it securely and swiftly in case you fall off and need to get back on, or at the very least, utilize it as a floating device. SUPs can be easily tossed across waves and far from you by the forceful wind, by the waves, or by your own body.
The board will always be within reach if you are wearing a leash. You’ll notice leashes are very common for paddleboarders on the ocean, and less common on lakes, however, they are still recommended in most situations.
Know The Weather Forecast
Never go without checking the weather. Be aware of the forecast for the full day’s weather. Don’t presume you’ll only be outside for a short while because the weather might quickly change.
Whenever there is hazardous weather nearby, don’t take any risks or attempt to paddle through storms.
Even while there might not be a storm in the immediate location, winds and waves could unexpectedly and abruptly pick up in the days before.
Knowing the weather will help you choose the best paddleboarding location, the right clothing, and will keep you safer. Always be cautious and prepare ahead of time!
Practice Self Rescue
If you are paddleboarding in an area where there might not be anybody around to help, it is critical that you know how to rescue yourself.
This suggests being familiar with the different techniques for getting back on your paddleboard if you fall off.
There are a few unique ways to get back on, so it’s best to learn and practice a few different methods. That way, you’ll be prepared for anything and you’ll know which method will work best in different situations. It is important to not just know the different techniques, but to have practices them heavily.
Next time you are on the water in safe conditions, it may be a good idea to repeatedly test hopping off, and getting back on the board. It needs to be second nature in case a fall happens at an unexpected time, or with very cold water.
Wear The Right Clothing
It is vital to wear the proper clothing when paddleboarding.
You don’t want to paddle in clothes that are too loose or baggy because they can easily get caught on something or fill up with water and weigh you down.
It’s also important to avoid wearing clothes that are too constricting because they can make it difficult to move around and paddle properly.
The best clothing to paddleboard in is quick-drying, lightweight, and breathable.
This type of clothing will help you stay cool and comfortable while paddleboarding, and it won’t hold onto water if you happen to fall in.
In addition to this, cold weather or cold water conditions may mean that your clothing should be a wet or dry suit. In the heat of the summer, sun protection via clothing may also be essential.
Simply put, no matter the conditions, you need to have the right clothing.
Bring A Waterproof Safety Bag
It’s wise to be ready for your SUP journey for your safety and comfort. Think about using paddle boarding equipment such as a bag to store some important items like liquids for hydration, food, extra layers, or other safety items.
If you intend to spend a lot of time outside, think about investing in a small hydration pack with a water bladder to ensure you always have access to fresh water.
Other useful goods to take are bug repellent for mosquitoes and insects, sunscreen, balm, and sunglasses to shield you from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
You can also look into our sunglass recommendations which might help you understand what type or color of sunglasses may help protect you from harmful rays when paddleboarding.
Carry A Phone
Carrying a phone is crucial when you are paddling. Carry a mobile phone inside a waterproof bag to protect it from harm, and it is on hand in case you need to summon assistance.
Cell coverage isn’t always perfect. Some paddle boarders will carry a GPS device in case of emergencies as well. There are also marine specific emergency GPS devices like this example.
Tell Someone About Your Plans
It’s a good idea to text a friend or member of your family your location and anticipated return time before you leave. This way, if something happens and you don’t return when expected, someone will know to come looking for you.
Put On A Protective And Visible Outfit
Because a SUP is flat, it can occasionally be challenging to see it from a moving boat. While paddling, wearing brightly colored apparel will help you stand out to onlookers.
Long sleeves and a brightly colored rash shield top will help you stand out from the crowd while shielding the skin from excessive sun exposure.
Being noticable on the water is important, accidents do occur where boaters don’t see kayakers or paddleboarders, and being bright minimizes this risk.
Know the Direction of the Wind
Although it may seem frivolous, it is crucial to be aware of how the wind is blowing and any possible sudden weather changes.
Wind blowing in the direction or your travel will make the trip easier and require less effort, which is especially helpful if you feel worn out. The inverse is true here as well. If you spend 2 hours paddling with the wind, but need to get back to your destination, the travel back could be twice as hard.
If you feel the wind direction is on a different scale on the day you are paddle boarding, do not go for paddle boarding at distances where there is danger.
Off-shore breezes should also be taken into account because they can occasionally be strong and swiftly carry you out to a great depth.
Know the Strength and Direction of Currents
Similar to wind, currents can play a major role in your ability to cover distance and hit your intended locations. Paddleboarding where currents or tides can affect your adventure means that you need to be fully aware of tide schedules, and currents to be safe.
When paddle boarding in the ocean, be on the lookout for rip currents. These can be dangerous and even life-threatening if you are not careful. If you find yourself caught in a rip current, paddle parallel to the shoreline until you are out of the current, and then head back to shore.
Face The Waves
Start by paddle boarding in more protected waters with calmer conditions. As you become more confident and skilled, you can start to paddle board in rougher areas. Remember it is always best to paddle into the waves, as opposed to away from them. Paddling into the waves will make it easier for you to maintain your balance and keep moving.
Paddling parallel to waves is the most dangerous way to handle waves on a paddleboard. It becomes far more difficult to maintain balance if the waves are hitting the sides of the boards. Always be pointed at the waves when possible.
Overall, paddle boarding is an enjoyable and amazing activity to go for. However, being careful and prepared while paddle boarding is essential for your safety.
We hope that the these important paddleboard safety tips we outlined have been helpful to you and that you will be able to utilize these tips to be safe, and have an incredible time on the water.
Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about