Canoeing safety checklist

Canoeing safety checklist

Canoeing safety is all part of the planning with water sports. It’s the same as having to do warm ups to prevent injuries on dry land. You need to make safety checks on your canoe part of your paddling adventure.

To help you get your canoeing safety checks down to a fine art, we’ve put together a list of things to think about before every trip. Set them to memory and work them into your planning.

The specific canoeing safety checklist

  1. Have you checked your canoe for holes or damage? Every time you get on the water, you should do a quick check. Check for holes, deep scratches or general wear and tear and make any repairs to ensure your boat is watertight before heading out.
  2. Have you got your buoyancy aid or other floatation device (PFD)? These should always be worn when canoeing. Check out our guide to buying your first PFD to see whats important in these pieces of equipment. It might also be worth considering whether you need a helmet too, depending on the type of water you are paddling.
  3. Have you got all your paddling equipment? Boat, paddle, BA or PFD (for each paddler in the boat), helmet if necessary…
  4. Have you got your airbags? Think about floatation devices for your boat too – airbags and foam blocks are very useful… they help prevent your boat from sinking or filling with water!
  5. Clothing… obviously you have clothes, but are they the right clothes for the job? Find out more about the types of clothing you can wear when canoeing in our article “Canoe Clothing: what to wear on the water.”

Then we’ve got the checklist which is applicable to all paddle crafts…

  1. Have you got your mobile phone in a waterproof pouch? No excuses for not carrying some sort of device where you can call for help! Keep it close by too. If you can’t reach it, it’s no use.
  2. Have you got a ‘fix it quick’ kit? We don’t expect things to go wrong, but preparation will help ensure they don’t. Simply carrying some duct tape and a basic repair kit can be a lifesaver!
  3. Have you packed your dry bag with the essentials for the paddle ahead? Drinking water, hot drinks, snacks, suncream, spare clothes, warm clothing, towel, hats/gloves. It’s worth also considering a small first aid kit with things like plasters, painkillers, bandages, rehydration sachets, antiseptic wipes and insect spray.
  4. Have you got a map, trail map or some sort of navigation equipment if you need it? If you’re on a canal you can probably get away with it, but for trips on the sea, open water or rivers, it’s best to know exactly where you are and where you are going.

From a hygiene perspective…

The water your paddling on isn’t always as clean as it looks unfortunately. Looks great in pictures, but perhaps not under a microscope! Things like weils disease, whilst uncommon, can be picked up through paddling, but as long as you follow a few basic steps, you’ll cover yourself no problem! Just remember:

  1. Don’t drink from the water you’re paddling on. Always take water with you on the trip – remember you’ll need more in warm weather as you are exercising despite it being fun!
  2. Take a good bath or shower as soon as you can once you’ve been on the water 
  3. Cover any cuts properly before paddling – you don’t want the river or canal water getting into it
  4. Make sure you wash your hands properly, or use antibacterial spray before eating anything 

All of the above may seem obvious, and it is! Think about the journey logically and every step ahead. The more you plan, the more you’re prepared, the more fun you’ll have. Simple! Now, head over to PaddlePoints and find canoeing near you.

Want to learn more about staying safe on the water? Take our free Go Paddling eLearning here!