Northwest Paddleboarding stresses safety first for all paddleboarders, whether you are a beginner or advanced. There are many safety issues to take into account when joining the sup sport.
The United States Coast Guard considers a paddleboard to be a “vessel” and it is required to have the same safety equipment as a boat. This means a USCG approved life-jacket and a whistle has to be on board for each person while on the water. We follow this law and give our clients the choice of whether they want to wear their life jackets during guided outings(with a lifeguard on duty). We do require those who do not know how to swim and children under the age of 12 to wear a life jacket at all times. We also require an ankle leash to be worn, so the paddleboard stays near if you do fall off. Some kind of light (flashlight) is aso required to be on board before sunrise, after sunset and during any weather where visibility is poor.
Weather reports come in handy before planning a paddleboard trip. Wind speed, tidal ranges, and current can impact the sport, so being aware before you head out could be a life saver. Our bodies act like sails when standing, so in the wind it is safer to kneel or lie down. Staying out of the current, especially when it’s windy will help keep you from floating too quickly down river. Temperature is another factor to think about. Use sunscreen or a rash-guard to protect your skin and take water with you to stay hydrated. Board shorts, swimsuits, and dri-fit workout clothing are all great options for staying warm and dry. If you plan on paddleboarding during the off-season, when water temperatures are extremely cold (below 65), wear a wet-suit or dry-suit to avoid hypothermia. Flip flops or water shoes are advised to protect your feet and once on the paddleboard they can be tucked under the bungee cords. Its always a good idea to keep a towel and an extra pair of clothes in your car.
Know your surroundings
Rocks, sand bars, and rip currents can all throw you off the board without warning. We do not recommend crossing the river. Boats and jet skis travel too fast to be able to stop or turn before they see a paddleboard. Keep your distance from barges, boats, jet skis, other paddleboards, swimmers and fishermen, it is not just safe, but also shows proper paddleboard etiquette.
Another safety concern is personal injury from paddling. Knowing how to adjust the paddle for your size and using proper paddle technique can prevent back and shoulder injuries. An introduction to paddleboarding lesson goes over SUP safety and etiquette, good posture and paddle technique, and great tips on how to maneuver the paddleboard easily and efficiently. Sign up for our Intro to SUP this summer!
Have fun and be safe!