Paddle boarding is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world due to its accessibility. It's quick to learn and a very engaging form of watersports. However, things can become dangerous real quick while you're paddle boarding, so your safety needs to be your number one priority. Here are six safety precautions you can take while engaging in this water sport.
To avoid getting caught up in dangerous situations, check the weather forecast beforehand. If there are large gusts of wind blowing or if it looks like there's a storm coming, don't risk it by going into the water. Even the strongest and most experienced paddleboarders can get caught up in high tides. It's better to be more cautious if you're paddle boarding with kids.
Even if the weather forecast seems fine, try having a chat with the locals before you go paddle boarding. You'll be amazed by the information locals have about the hidden dangers of paddle boarding at popular destinations.
Most local paddlers are well versed with the wind direction and tidal movement of the area and would be more than happy to share this knowledge with you.
Safety requirements have to be met before you can go paddle boarding; this includes having appropriate gear to wear. At the very least, you should have floating sunglasses, a personal flotation device, a leash, and a life vest. The leash will prevent your paddle board from drifting away in case you slip off of it. If you're paddleboarding in the heat, wear a hat and a UPF 50+ swim shirt to protect your skin from burning.
Sunscreen is also a must for paddleboarding.If you're going paddleboarding in the winter, wear a winter wetsuit along with gloves and boots to protect yourself from the cold. A high-quality drysuit is another alternative for paddle boarding appropriate wear.
You should always have an emergency kit ready on hand with you for any unforeseen circumstances. A few tools are all it takes to get you out of a dangerous situation. Have your phone ready and on hand with you in case you get lost; if your phone isn't waterproof, put it inside a vacuum-sealed bag.
Make sure your GPS location services are on so your location can be tracked down. It's also handy to keep a water whistle and a flashlight with you. Keep an emergency kit for repairing your paddle board as well, in case something happens to it.
Participating in watersports as a group or a team is a much safer option as opposed to doing it all by yourself. At the very least, find a partner who can paddle board with you. It's natural for accidents to occur and for someone to get injured. In such circumstances, you or your paddle board buddy can help the other and get safely to shore. Aside from the fact that they can be helpful, it’s also quite fun to share an enjoyable moment and make memories with your friends and family. Beginners and those unsure of what type of paddle board is ideal for them should consider an all-around paddle board.
The highest risk associated with paddle boarding is the flooding of rivers. It becomes difficult to assess the depth of the water when rivers flood, which can be a safety concern for paddle boarders.
Flooding can also cause high tides and currents on otherwise calm water. Any hazards, such as sharp rocks, which were previously visible before the river ran over will now be hidden underwater, making it more liable for you to get hurt or injured.
Always check the chances of flooding while you're checking the weather forecast; sometimes, the weather will be appropriate for paddleboarding however, the river/sea will not.
If you're feeling particularly apprehensive about the conditions of the river, the risks of flooding, and the possible dangers of paddle boarding itself, then it's better to stay at home.
Paddleboarding can be a fun and exciting experience, however, you should not deliberately insert yourself into dangerous and life-threatening situations.
Skipping out from paddle boarding is a safer and easier option than identifying the hazards and actively working towards avoiding them. The best way to stay safe while paddle boarding is to think logically and critically and to use your common sense. You can go out paddle boarding with all the right tools and equipment, but it would be foolish to go if you can sense that the weather is not right.
However, if you do find yourself in a difficult and dangerous situation, remember to stay calm and derive a plan that can help you get back to safety as quickly as possible. We hope that these 6 safety tips come in handy when you go paddle boarding.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Content Creator / Editor
Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the adventure watersports space, focussing on surf, kayak and rafting. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.