Stand-Up Paddleboard Safety

In this session, you’ll learn safety tips for stand-up paddleboarding, the fastest growing water sport in the world. Whenever used beyond the narrow limits of a swimming, surfing, or bathing area, a stand-up paddleboard is considered by the U.S. Coast Guard to be a vessel under oars with applicable rules and regulations. What problems are we trying to avoid? Failing to wear a life jacket. Being uninformed on applicable Navigation Rules and local regulations. Not being aware of environmental factors: wind, waves, water temperature, and other elements and hazards in the area where you intend to paddleboard. Not carrying a whistle. Failing to attach the safety leash. Not using preliminary steps like prone paddling, knee paddling, and slowly standing up. Paddling improperly, holding the paddle incorrectly, or employing an inappropriate blade angle. Paddling where you shouldn’t go. Being unable to swim. Not knowing how to self-rescue, which means re-boarding the paddleboard in case of falling off. So how do we do it right? Understand how the Navigation Rules apply to stand-up paddleboards, which are considered vessels when used beyond a swimming, surfing, or bathing area. Be cognizant of state and local regulations, which may modify or add other requirements to the Nav Rules. Understand environmental factors that will impact your paddleboarding — winds and current, water temperature, tidal ranges, and local terrain of the sea bottom and nearby shoreline. Choose an area with calm water and calm wind to learn how to balance on the board without the motion of waves. Wear a properly fitting serviceable Coast Guard approved life jacket appropriate for the activity of paddleboarding. Attach a whistle to your life vest, which can be heard many times further than a human voice, especially when vocal cords are impaired by inhaling water. Wear the appropriate leash so that, if you fall, you won’t become separated from your board in wind and waves. Adjust the paddle to the correct length — eight inches above your head — and plan to hold it properly. Place one hand on the t-bar grip at the top of the shaft, and the other hand slightly past the center closer to the blade. Practice prone paddling — lying down on the board with the paddle held under you so it doesn’t float away. With one arm on either side of the board, paddle as if you’re swimming. Next, try knee paddling. Sit up and position yourself on your knees. Hold onto your paddle. Remain in the center of the board so the nose and tail stay level with the water. To stand up, place the paddle horizontally across the front of the board, and place your feet in the center where your knees were. From a squatting position, slowly stand up while holding onto your paddle. Keep your knees bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be parallel to each other to make it easier to balance. Use an optimal blade angle for efficiency. The angle of the blade should face away from you to eliminate drag. Paddle using a down-and-back motion, dipping the paddle in the water at the front side of your board, and pushing it towards the back. Switch sides every few paddles to remain straight. To turn, continue paddling on one side of the board until you’re facing the direction your want to go. Back-paddle to take smaller quicker turns or to get your board to slow down. A more advanced way to stop is to step back on the tail of the board to sink it underwater. Rely on your core strength more than your arms. Keep your head up, back straight, and your body weight over your toes. Avoid other swimmers, boaters, and paddleboarders. Learn to be a competent swimmer. Practice falling — staying well clear of the board without landing on it or its fins. Know how to self-rescue. Approach your board from the rear. Climb on; paddle prone; get into the kneeling position. Begin forward movement and then slowly stand up. If you get caught in an unfavorable wind change, to avoid acting like a sail, lie down with your paddle tucked underneath you and paddle prone. Learn how to tow another board. To enjoy this sport even more, take a stand-up paddleboard instructional safety course. Have fun and stay safe on the water.

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