Paddle boarding is a simple sport, but that doesn’t mean it carries no risk. But in different spots will have different safety risks and you need to know them in order to avoid them.
Potential risks of paddle boarding
Below are some common risk factors for paddle boarding in different locations and conditions. Check them out and find out how to minimise them.
1. At the beach and in the water
- Find a lifeguarded beach.
- Before going into the water, Make sure the conditions are not beyond your ability. You might be a good swimmer in a pool, but swimming in the ocean is a completely different story.
- When you get on your paddleboard, take time to get used to the water temperature.
- While you’re paddle boarding, make sure you have someone watching from the beach to provide shore cover. Make sure they have a way to call for help.
2. Near open water
- Stay away from the edge. Stick to designated paths. Be careful with uneven, unstable or slippery ground.
- Look for safety signs in the area. If possible, always seek local advice on the tides to make sure you don’t get caught off guard when paddling.
- Never walk alone or at night. Always make sure you have a way to call for help.
3. On the water
- We can’t stress this enough: whenever you are out on the water, always wear a suitable life jacket - it could save your life.
- Wear a brightly colored buoyancy aid and carry a means of calling for help in case you are in trouble. An eye-catching buoyancy aid will help others to spot you more easily.
- If you are paddling alone, let someone ashore know your plans and when they can expect you to be back.
4. If you fall into the water unexpectedly
- It’s important to remain calm when you fall into the water unexpecrtedly, especially if you are paddling on cold water. The initial shock of being in cold water can cause you to gasp and panic. Effects of cold water shock will pass in less than a minute so don’t try to swim straight away.
- Try to relax and float. Float on your back while you catch your breath. Try to get hold of something that will help you float.
- If you are calm and able to catch your breath, start to call for help and swim for safety if you can.
5. If you find someone else in trouble
- If someone nearby is in trouble, call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard
- Find something that floats or that they can hold on to and throw it to them.
- It’s probably not a great idea to try and enter the water yourself to save them. Too many people drown trying to save others.
6. How to deal with stormy weather
- Always check the weather forecast before actually getting out on the water. If you are going to a new place you are not familiar with, see if you can get some local advice in advance.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Storms can change the landscape of some beaches, changing or damaging access points, or even creating new areas for rip currents.
- Beware of large waves. Even from the shore, large breaking waves can sweep you off your feet and drag you out to sea.
Know the risks so that you can make small changes that will help keep you and others safe when you are out paddle boarding in the ocean.