When you think about the best ways to spend a hot summer day, it’s hard to think of one that beats paddleboarding. If you’re going to get out on your board though, it’s important to ensure you do it safely. That’s why I’ve put together this list of 8 essential safety tips for paddleboarding:
Wear a life jacket
It’s really important to wear a life jacket while paddleboarding. A large number of fatal and near-fatal drownings occur when people are wearing no or improper gear.
When choosing a life jacket, make sure it is comfortable and fits well (even if you’re not planning on using it). Also, check that the straps are adjustable and won’t slip off your shoulders in larger waves or choppy water. Finally, consider buying two so that you have another one ready just in case the first one needs washing!
If possible, try on similar models before purchasing a piece of safety equipment – this will help ensure that you get something that works best for your body type instead of having to buy an item blindly without knowing how it will fit into place when worn outside in real-world conditions.
The most important piece of equipment you should wear while paddleboarding is your shoes. These should be comfortable, water-resistant and provide ankle support. They also need to fit securely on your feet so that they don’t slip off when you move around on the board—and if possible, it would be best if they were easy to take off and put back on.
Don’t go out on windy days
When the wind is blowing, paddleboarding can be difficult. If you don’t have experience with paddling in windy conditions, stay away from your board on days that are gusty or stormy. Strong winds can make it hard to control your board and stay upright while standing up on it. Additionally, if you fall off into the water (which happens to all of us at least once—and maybe more!), strong winds can push you farther out into the ocean than expected and make it difficult for you to paddle back toward shore safely.
Check the weather
Before you head out, check the weather forecast and wind speed. If it’s going to be windy or stormy, stay home. You don’t want to be caught out in a bad weather situation without proper protection from the elements.
If you can’t get a good idea of the weather forecast, call your local marine patrol to find out what conditions are like at your specific location.
Next, check the water temperature and water visibility—both should be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). If they’re too low or high for comfort, take note of that as well so you can adjust your clothing accordingly before hitting the water.
Check your paddleboard
- Check for cracks in the board. This can be done by running a fingernail along the sides of your board to make sure there are no breaks or splits in it. If you find one, don’t worry! You can fix this by applying fiberglass resin over the damaged area and letting it dry completely before re-pouring some epoxy on top of it.
- Check for missing or loose parts on your paddleboard as well as signs of wear and tear like scratches on the bottom part.
- Use sunscreen. If you’re going to be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, wearing a high SPF sunscreen is essential (look for one with at least 30 SPF). Apply the sunscreen before you head out on the water and reapply it every two hours or so if you’re in direct sunlight. It’s also important to apply sunscreen liberally—don’t forget that your face will be partially submerged in water, so make sure all exposed areas are covered.
- Use waterproof sunscreen. There are plenty of sunscreens that claim to be waterproof, but not all actually work as advertised once they come into contact with water (and we all know how much water there is on a paddleboard). So look for one that does! A good rule of thumb is that if something says “water-resistant,” it probably isn’t suitable for use while paddleboarding because even slight splashes can take away some of its effectiveness after a while.
Go with at least one other person
If you’re going to paddleboard, it’s best to go with at least one other person. Paddleboarding is a fun activity for friends and family to do together, but it can also be dangerous if someone gets into trouble. If you have an accident and get separated from your board or paddle, having someone nearby that can help will make all the difference in your situation.
By going with another person or group of people, you’ll be able to share the cost of renting equipment like a paddleboard or life vest. This will also keep things fun! You may not need this many people to paddle on the same board at once (although some boards are wide enough), but sharing paddles makes it easier for everyone to stay safe while they’re out there on the water.
Familiarize yourself with danger signs
Danger signs are any indicators that the conditions you’re paddling in could be unsafe. The most common danger signs include:
- Waves higher than usual
- Strong winds (more than 20 mph)
- Heavy rain, hail or snowfall
What to do if you see a danger sign: If you notice that the weather is becoming more dangerous, it’s best to head back to shore immediately. While paddleboarding can be fun and exciting, make sure that you take safety precautions at all times.
I hope you found this list of safety tips helpful! I wish you many safe and enjoyable times on your paddleboard.