SUP Safety Tips

Overestimating your abilities might be one of the most dangerous mistakes you can make on a paddleboard. Whether it's your paddling stamina, swimming abilities, or balancing skill, overconfidence in your abilities can create serious problems on the water.

Following these SUP safety tips will not only make paddle boarding more enjoyable for you but they could potentially save your (or a friend’s) life.

Besides the SUP safety gear that is mandated by the Coast Guard (outlined here) which includes a life jacket or PFD and a whistle, this post outlines some best practices for you to stay safe on your stand up paddle board.

paddle boarding

1) Use a leash

Although not mandated by law, we highly suggest that you always use a leash with your SUP. Although carrying a PFD on your SUP is mandated, that PFD isn’t going to do you a whole lot of good if it’s under the bungees on the board and you fall off your board and a strong wind carries your board away.

Let’s face it, your SUP board is your biggest and best personal flotation device!

 

2) The Weather Forecast 

Being aware of potential changes in the weather is critical before heading out for a paddle. This is especially important in regions where the weather can change from placid to stormy very quickly.

Getting caught in a thunderstorm can be extremely disorienting and dangerous. The same can be said for windy conditions. We highly recommend that you always start your paddle by heading into the wind.

If you start your paddle with the wind, you can be pushed out farther than you had planned and you can find it extremely daunting to paddle your SUP back to your launch point.

 

3) Learn to Prone Paddle

Should you get blown out too far from the spot you put in you will probably need to lie down on the board to paddle back so that your body doesn’t act as a sail which makes it much more difficult to paddle back.

The trick here is to lie the SUP paddle blade flat under your chest which will elevate the shaft somewhat. Now you are free to paddle back. You will be amazed how much more ground you will be able to cover using this technique.

 

4) Learn to Paddle while Kneeling

This is a great paddling technique to use when you are in shallow, rocky water (we all end up there at some point).

By lowering your center of gravity, you are less likely to fall and if you do end up falling, you are more likely to fallow in a shallow fashion and will be less likely to injure yourself.

 

5) Buddy System

A common sense way to stay safe on your SUP is to paddle with friends. If you do decide to go out alone, let someone know where you are, what direction you will be headed and approximately what time you will return.

 inflatable paddle board

6) Flip your Board

It’s good to practice flipping your SUP from upside down to right side up in deep water as this can often happen when you fall off the board. Being comfortable with this technique will make you less likely to panic when in inevitably happens.

 

7) Sunscreen

A day SUPing on the water can lead to severe sunburn as the sun reflects off of the water. It’s always a good idea to wear a waterproof sunscreen that is at least 30 spf to prevent this from happening.

 

8) Proper Clothing

Depending on the water temperature, a wet or dry suit may be appropriate so that you don’t suffer from hyperthermia should you fall off your paddle board.

If it’s summer and the water is fairly warm make sure that you are wearing an outfit that doesn’t weigh you down if you end up going for an unintentional swim.

 

9) Keep Your ISUP Properly Inflated

If you are using an inflatable SUP, make sure that you keep it pumped up from 12-25 PSI to ensure that you have a properly stable platform and therefore will be less likely to fall.

 

10) Don’t Get Run Over

This applies when SUP ocean or river surfing on a hard board. Remember that your board can become a dangerous projectile both to yourself and to others when it is being pushed by a wave or river current.

Make sure that you stay under water if the board ends up behind you in a wave or current until you are aware that it’s safely past you.

 SUP

11) Helmet and Quick Release Leash

This is critical safety equipment in addition to wearing your PFD if you are trying you hand at downriver SUP.

The helmet benefit will protect your head from rocks that are either above water or in shallow water while the quick release could save your life if your paddleboard gets pinned under the falls.

 

12) Know Your Limits

Overestimating your abilities might be one of the most dangerous mistakes you can make on a paddleboard. Whether it's your paddling stamina, swimming abilities, or balancing skill, overconfidence in your abilities can create serious problems on the water.

 

Following these SUP safety tips will not only make paddle boarding more enjoyable for you but they could potentially save your (or a friend’s) life.

 

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