|Paddling sports are very popular recreational water sports in Pennsylvania. There are dangers that can be lessened with knowledge, preparation and practice. Primary hazards are capsizing, swamping or just falling out of the boat. Keep in mind that paddling is a “get wet” sport.
- Wear your life jacket. On average, 80 percent of all recreational boating fatalities happen to people who are not wearing a life jacket.
- Expect to get wet and dress properly. Even the best paddlers sometimes capsize or swamp their boats.
- Be prepared to swim. If the water looks too hazardous to swim in, don’t go paddling.
- If you capsize, hold on to your boat, unless it presents a life-threatening situation.
- Scout ahead whenever possible. Know the river. Avoid surprises.
- Be prepared for the weather. Get a forecast before you go.
- Wear wading shoes or tennis shoes with wool, polypropylene, pile or neoprene socks.
- Never take your boat over a low-head dam.
- Portage (carry) your boat around any section of water about which you feel uncertain.
- Never boat alone. Boating safety increases with numbers.
- Keep painter lines (ropes tied to the bow) and any other ropes coiled and secured.
- Never tie a rope to yourself or to another paddler, especially a child.
- Kneel to increase your stability before entering rougher water, like a rapid.
- If you collide with an obstruction, lean toward it.
- Be sure to leave a float plan. It’s a written statement that details your intended trip and is provided to a friend, neighbor or marina operator. Include specifics about the vessel, equipment, crew and departure and arrival times. Click her for a sample float plan.