STAYING SAFE WHILE PADDLE BOARDING
A brief look into understanding the basics needed to stay safe, while out on the water, with these ten top tips.
1. CHOOSE A SUITABLE LOCATION
Paddle boards are very accessible these days, even most supermarkets sell cheap infatable ones, with eveything needed to blow it up, and go out on the water.
If you have never been on a paddle board, the huge expanse of the sea, may not be the best place to try it out. The same can be said for moving water like rivers or estruarys.
An inland lake or pool, with calm water, that alows the activity, maybe the safest option. There are many lakes, reservoirs and pools in the UK, almost all are privately owned. Ensure you have permission to enter the water. If there are signs not allowing entry to the water, make sure you obey them. It may be for safety reasons, many reservoirs have equipment under the water that is incredibly dangerous.
2. KNOW & UNDERSTAND THE WEATHER FORECAST
Having a thorough understanding of what weather you can expect, while you plan to be out on the water is vital, even for inland waters. Make sure you also check the most up to date forecast for wind, weather and temperature before heading out. Forecasts can often change by the hour.
Ensure you fully understand wind speeds and direction. An offside wind at the coast can be very dangerous, quickly blowing inflatable paddle boards out to sea.
If you are heading out on the sea, it is worth understanding surf forecasts too. Often at the coast, wind and weather conditons can look great and seem perfect, but if there is any swell, expect waves that may not be suitable for paddle boarding. Also make sure you know the tidal movements and have a thourough understanding of how the affect the area you wish to use.
3. ALWAYS PADDLE WITH A BUDDY
Heading out alone carries a greater risk, so we ALWAYS recommend paddling with at least one other person. Should things go wrong, someone is close at hand to help.
If you must head out alone, ensure you tell someone exact details; start time and location, exact route or area, end time and location. Call them when you start, call them as soon as you are back on dry land.
4. ALWAYS WEAR A BUOYANCY AID
This should really go without saying. Wearing a bouyancy aid will help you to float if you do end up in the water without your board. It is acceptable to use a bouyancy aid, (aimed to keep you afloat) as opposed to a life jacket (will keep you afloat and your face out of the water).
We see so many people way out, not wearing bouyancy aids.
You may cosider not wearing one if you are an experienced SUP surfer, but beginners really should not be enteing any water without one, regardless of their swimming ability.
5 WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING
You should always wear clothing that will keep you warm should you end up in the water for any length of time.
This is generally a wetsuit, one suitable for the time of year. From Late October to mid May seas are very cold and you should be wearing a winter wetsuit (sealed 5mm/3mm) as a minimum, with boots, gloves and hood during late autumn, winter and early spring. Some rivers and lake can remain very cold year round.
Summer wetsuits (3mm/2mm) and shorties are really only suitable for June to mid September.
6. CARRY A WAY TO CALL FOR HELP
A mobile phone in a good quality water proof case, means you can take pictures of your adventure, but more importantly, call for help should things go wrong.
In the event of an emergency call 999 and ask for coastguard. Remember the three P's. What the problem is. how many people are in danger and the position. Knowing your loction is viatl for help arriving quickly.
Also considering signing your phone up to the emergency SMS service Text messages require far less phone signal to send and a text can sometimes get through in areas where there is not enough signal to make a phone call.
For trips to remote areas of coastline, consider carrying a waterproof hand held VHF radio and throughly know how to work it, comunicate effectively and what channels to use.
7 CHECK ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT
Thoroughly check everything is working as it should, even if it's brand new.
You wouldn't want to be out at sea when you discover your inflatable paddle board has a leak. Far better to test it on dry land way before heading out, especially if its brand new, or been in storage for the winter. Check your paddle is solid and secure, leash is in good working order, with no cracks or nicks in the cord. Your means of calling for help is fully charged, water proof case is leak free. Wetsuit is fit for the purpose.
8. USE A LIFEGUARDED BEACH
Pick a beach that has a lifeguard service. These are by far the safest place to go paddle boarding on the coast.
If things do go wrong, help is very close, from experienced lifesaving experts.
Lifegaurds are always very friendly and approachable, so drop in and say hi, tell them what your plans are and find out about any local dangers.
Always take the lifeguards advice, they really do know the local area and conditions better than anybody
9. USE THE CORRECT LEASH
There are 2 types of leash for paddle boarding. a coiled leash (as seen in the picture) or a straight leash.
Staright leashes, attached to ankle or calf should only be used for general flat water paddle boarding, on lakes or coastal areas with no or very little tidal flow.
Coiled leashes again attached to the ankle or calf are again for the same locations.
For moving water, (rivers, tidal flows) where there is a risk of entrapment, (paddle board goes one side of an object, while the paddler goes the other), you should consider not wearing a leash or a quick release waist belt, with a coiled leash attached to it. You must be confident that you can release the belt 100% of the time, especially in a stressfull under water situation, it is considered safer to not wear a leash if you are not confident.
10. HAVE A PADDLE BOARD LESSON
If you have never paddle boarded and do not have a great deal of water experience, you should condsider getting a lesson from a reputable paddle board school.
Lessons will teach all the correct techniques to be a safe, effective paddler, without having to correct bad habits later down the line.
Paddle board coaches are experts in their field, and have a wealth of knowledge for you to exploit.
Learning how to self rescue and even rescue others can help keep everyone safe.
View our post 'Stay safe at the beach'