Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

On The Cover

Expert Shares Paddling Trip Tips For Fun And Safety

Series: Boating Safety | Story 8

Ed Huntsman is the Recreational Boating Safety Program Manager, United States Coast Guard, Eighth Coast Guard District.

As spring approaches, temperatures rise, and ice melts, paddlesports enthusiasts begin to contemplate their first paddle-trip.

But, before grabbing the canoe, kayak or SUP for that first trip, Eighth Coast Guard District boating-safety program manager Ed Huntsman wants to offer a few tips to ensure your safe return after an enjoyable trip.

Know Basic Safety Skills

How to self-rescue in the event your boat capsizes along with proper paddling technique and how to read the water. Only take on challenges for which you are physically and mentally prepared as well as having an understanding of basic rescue skills necessary to assist others.

Never Paddle Alone!

Always paddle with others in the event there's a problem or challenge downstream so you're not on your own. Plus you'll have someone to share the experience with.

Dress 'Code'

Warm air and cold water can be a dangerous mix. Always dress appropriately for the weather conditions, understanding the probability you will likely get wet. Take extra (dry) clothing to change into when it happens.

Dos And Don'ts

Carry a supply of food and water adequate for the type and length of trip you're planning. But leave the alcohol and non-physician prescribed drugs at home; alcohol and drugs impair judgment and good judgment is a critical component of fun and safe paddling.

Keep In Touch

Inform others (family or friend) of your plans before you depart, including details on your put-in and planned take-out locations, boat type and color and other pertinent details so in the event you are late or have a situation, the Coast Guard or local authorities know where to start looking for you if you end up needing help. Don't forget to let them know when you've returned home safely.

'Can You Hear Me Now?'

Take a means of communication with you in a waterproof bag. A submersible VHF marine band radio on a coastal trip or cell phone on inland paddles provides a communications link, which may turn out to be very valuable in the event of an emergency or delay.

It's For Life

Always wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket suitable for the type of paddling activity you're doing. Make sure it fits snuggly, the snaps are snapped and the zippers zipped. In more than 80 percent of paddling related fatal accidents, the victims weren't wearing a life jacket.

Learn And Live

Take a class – they're fun, enjoyable and will enhance your skill set. For more information on paddlesports courses ranging from basic and introductory paddling to surf and whitewater SUP, check out the American Canoe Association (ACA). Courses are conducted by experienced and certified instructors on the water near your home and provide the basics needed to ensure fun and safe paddling.

For more information on the ACA, check out their Web site at http://www.americancanoe.org.

Classroom courses are also available through the Coast Guard Auxiliary. Details can be found at http://cgaux.org/boatinged/class_finder/index.php. Also, see page 3 of this issue.

Safe, Fun Paddling Is The Goal

Paddling is a wonderful way to spend quality time on the water. Just ask Debbie Huntsman, our "cover girl" who is shown paddling on Lake Pleasant (photo credit: Ed Huntsman).

Make sure you get home safely to share this refreshing experience.

For more information, contact Ed Huntsman: (504) 671-2148

Author Bio

Ed Huntsman, Boating Editor

Author photo

Recreational boating safety Program Manager, United States Coast Guard, Eighth Coast Guard District. - Retired


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