As with all water sports, staying safe on the water is paramount. Even on calm, sunny days there are dangers that all paddle boarders should be aware of and take suitable precautions against. Following a few simple rules and equipping yourself with a couple of key items will ensure you’re always prepared in the event of an incident occurring.
The most important rule when it comes to paddle boarding is “if in doubt, don’t go out”. Wind, water and weather conditions can change incredibly quickly and once you’re out in the water it can be much more difficult to notice these changes, and even harder to do anything about them. If you were to get it into any difficulty it’s not just yourself you put in danger, but also your potential rescuers. Before you head out, always make sure you check the weather forecast for that day and the tide information for the area. It’s also a good idea to have a knowledge of the prevailing conditions for the local area, such as any known rip currents. If you’re paddling somewhere for the first time, local paddle shops or schools should be a good source for this information, or failing that just chat to the local paddlers. It’s also always worth checking online for any information for that area.
In terms of kit, first and foremost you should have some form of flotation device. As life jackets or buoyancy aids can often be bulky and restrictive when it comes to paddling, the modern style of personal flotation device that packs up into a waistbelt are a great solution. It’s also important to dress for the conditions and have the right combination of clothing to ensure you stay cool if it’s a hot day or stay warm on the chillier days. Take additional clothing with you, including a windproof and waterproof layer in case the conditions take a turn for the worse. A good quality, waterproof deck bag is essential to keep your additional kit dry. It’s also great for carrying food and drinks to ensure you maintain energy levels and stay hydrated whilst on the water. It also means you can keep another important piece of kit dry – a mobile phone, in case of emergencies. Whilst we’re on the subject, it’s always a good idea to make sure someone knows where and when you’re going so if you end up in difficulty, they can call for help.