Staying Safe on Your SUP

A Paddle board Safety Announcement from Stand On Liquid for All SUPers.

As many parts of the country begin to thaw, and we look to warm, sunny days ahead, I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of the safety gear you need to use, including a leash such as the FCS Adjustable SUP Race Calf Leash, and the importance of wearing it.

FCS Adjustable Leash

FCS Adjustable Leash

Compared to other boating accidents, paddle boarding incidents involving serious injuries and fatalities pale by comparison. Aside from those news reports, which I mentioned have limited available information that suggest those fatalities were directly due to some operator error, there are reasons to be concerned. This sport is still in its infancy. But economies of scale suggest it may be headed for more news making headlines in the future. So I thought I’d take a look at some of the precautions you can enlist, teach your children, or warn friends about before you even set your board in the water.

According to the Coast Guard, there were over 4,500 boating accidents in 2013. Those accidents probably could have been avoided. But paddle boarders are at a disadvantage on open coastal waterways. You may be able to see for miles in any direction, but we often get focused on our paddling form, where we are headed, and just plain having fun to acknowledge the very real dangers in our vicinity.

One of the key things you need to remember is the simple fact that your paddle board is considered a vessel by the United States Coast Guard. And because of that designation, you are required to have safety equipment on board (life jacket or inflatable personal floatation device, a leash, a whistle, and if on the water at night, lighting). In most instances, the local authorities patrol inner waterways such as lakes or rivers, but they enforce USCG rules for these minimum requirements. So wear and pack the gear.

Other boaters create an enormous amount of problems as paddle boarders take to places where the water may already be crowded. Don’t assume a boater can see you. Sun and glare can greatly reduce a boater’s ability to recognize you on the water. One of the biggest problems paddleboarders have with boaters is the wake they cause. Drop to your knees to avoid falling off the board.

It may seem to be a non-starter, but paddle boarders are not required to know how to swim before they take to the open water. You should be a competent swimmer, able to self-rescue, and able to tow another paddle board to safety. As a vessel you are required to know the local regulations and navigations rules. Maybe you should consider a safety course as well. Most outfitters, like Stand On Liquid will include a safety based instruction with their lessons.

You should also know the weather (or at least have a relatively good forecast), the water temperature (it varies throughout the lake), and dress for the occasion (not just for the sun but also the water as well). Always let someone know where you are headed and it should go without saying, stay sober.

We want you to be safe and wearing that leash I mentioned earlier is one of the best ways to do help. Why you may ask? Imagine falling in the water on a windy day. Your board is likely to catch that breeze and be 20 yards away from you in a matter of minutes. If this happens and you are not wearing the leash, ditch the paddle and swim or float to the nearest board. The paddle will float but a surprising number of people will try to swim with it while chasing a runaway board.

One last note: never paddle alone.

Speak Your Mind