Stand up paddle board safety. SUP is a brilliant way to enjoy a day out on the water. From paddling calm, sheltered water to surfing the waves at the beach. But, you need to be mindful of keeping safe before you set off.
It’s worth running through a few safety checks. So before you SUP, make a mental note, and ask yourself these questions before you hit the water for a paddle.
Stand up paddle board safety checklist
- One of the most important points on our stand up paddle board safety checklist. Have you got a working leash? There are several types of leash; ankle leashes are ideal for surfers or flat water paddlers who prefer the ankle fitting. You can also wear the ankle leash further up the calf, which some prefer. Waist leashes are usually worn by white or moving water paddlers. Then there’s the question of coiled or straight? Coiled leashes are preferred by flat water and race paddlers as they don’t trail in the water, meaning less drag resistance. However surf paddlers tend to favour straight, long leashes which keep the board at a distance should you fall in.
- Do you need a buoyancy aid? That depends. If you are wearing a suitable leash, your board acts as your buoyancy in most situations so if you fall in, you can get back on your board easily. Sometimes BA’s can get in the way when you are trying to get back on the board, so if you want to wear one, look at ones that won’t impact your mobility. One style that is popular is the airbelt PFD, offered by companies including Palm and Red Paddle. They are a little waistbelt which house a PFD. When you need the PFD deploying, you simply pull the toggle and it inflates. Nifty, right!? It’s worth remembering that you should always wear a BA/PFD if you are paddling white water or paddling water you are not confident in or used to. Use your common sense and knowledge of your own skillset to make an informed choice on this one.
- Does your board need any repairs? Just have a quick ‘once over’ and check for any issues since you last used your board.
- If you’re on an inflatable, have you inflated your board to the correct pressure (PSI)? Make sure you have pumped your board to the correct PSI pressure. Most boards need to be inflated between 18-25 PSI but make sure you check yours beforehand!
And a few other things to remember…
- 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.
- Dress appropriately Dress for the weather. Layers work best, so layer up with water-wicking clothing. If it’s warm when you set off, pop some warm, dry layers in your dry back just incase. If you’re paddling in the cold, pack some gloves and a dry hat and layers just incase you need them.
- What shoes are you wearing? Whilst flip flops come in handy, they’re not always great for portaging. Think about your trip and invest in a pair of wet boots with a solid sole, or waterproof trainers, if you’re likely to be portaging often.
- Have you got some ‘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 puncture repair kit if it’s an inflatable can be a lifesaver!
- 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, antispectic wipes and insect spray.
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:
- 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!
- Take a good bath or shower as soon as you can once you’ve been on the water
- Cover any cuts properly before paddling – you don’t want the river or canal water getting into it
- Make sure you wash your hands properly, or use antibacterial spray before eating anything
It’s not a particularly long SUP safety checklist, but these are the sort of considerations you should be making before any stand up paddle board adventure. It only takes a few minutes to ask yourself the questions.