Top safety tips for stand-up paddleboarding
June 23, 2022
A fun activity that keeps you fit, you can enjoy stand-up paddleboarding on your own or with family and friends. Whether you’re a complete novice or have been SUPing for years, knowing how to keep yourself safe is key to your continued enjoyment.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a few of our top safety tips:
It’s more fun with a friend
Let’s face it, most things are more fun when you’re sharing the experience with someone else – so if you can, always go paddleboarding with a friend. Not only can they help you out if you get into trouble, they can also help carry your board!
If you do find yourself going it alone, whether it’s because everyone’s busy or you just want some peace and solitude, make sure you tell someone that you’re going and when you’re going to be back. And most importantly, do let them know when you’re back safe and sound so they don’t alert the search and rescue services while you’re enjoying a post SUP beverage at the local café!
Take a mobile phone with you
A mobile phone has two purposes when SUPing – one, to call for help should you get into trouble, and two, to take that all-important ‘onboard’ selfie! Just remember to keep it in a waterproof pouch, keeping it dry and functional at all times.
Take a safety whistle
As we all know, mobile phones can be unreliable – especially away from urban areas. So as a back-up, take a safety whistle out with you. This way, you can signal for assistance to people on the shore or nearby boaters if you get into difficulties – even if your phone lets you down.
Check the weather forecast, tide times and wind direction
Choppy water, a strongly ebbing tide and an offshore wind do not add up to a fun and comfortable paddleboarding experience – especially if you’re just getting started.
Conditions can change quickly, so it’s important to be aware of what’s happening. An offshore wind can blow you and your paddleboard a long way from the beach and make it extremely tiring and difficult to get back to shore, and this can be compounded if the tide is also going in an unfavourable direction.
If you’re unsure, ask someone. Don’t shy away from talking to other paddleboarders or kayakers getting ready to go out. The depth of knowledge locals have of an area, such as hidden dangers, tidal movements and localised effects, is something you often won’t find in a guide, so it’s always worth a quick chat.
Wear appropriate clothing for the time of year
In the winter, you’ll want to have as much thermal protection against the elements as possible, without compromising on movement. Depending on where you are, this might be a wetsuit or possibly even a drysuit and undersuit
In the summer, a rash vest and a pair of boardshorts might be all you need. But if you’re planning to stay out longer, or if you’re learning and tend to spend more time in the water than on the board, then a shortie or full length wetsuit might be a more sensible option.
And don’t forget the sunscreen! Water acts as a powerful reflector of the sun’s rays – even on a relatively overcast day you’ll want to make sure you apply a reef-friendly sunscreen.
Wear a pair of wet boots
Wearing suitable footwear has as much to do with comfort as safety. If you’re launching from a rocky shoreline, barefoot you’re likely to hurt your feet and flip-flops just aren’t going to cut it.
A pair of neoprene boots are ideal for getting to the water’s edge while carrying your board. Decent footwear also has the added bonus of giving you additional grip on the board – great if you’re a beginner.
Wear a personal floatation device (PFD)
No matter how confident a swimmer you are, you should always wear a suitable PFD – this could be a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket .
It will keep you afloat when you fall in, giving you the chance to recover and get back on your board – this is especially important when tired after a long day out on (and in!) the water.
When choosing a PFD, make sure it fits correctly, isn’t restrictive and allows you to move freely and paddle easily.
Always use a leash when paddleboarding
By connecting yourself to your board with a leash it can’t escape and be swept away if you fall off. You’ll save yourself a lot of time chasing after your board by using a leash!
More importantly, being attached to your board means you’ll be able to use it as a flotation aid should you get into trouble and need assistance.
Get some training
Paddleboarding looks easy and, in all honesty, it is, but before heading out for the first time you might consider a few training sessions.
Learning the right technique early on can save a lot of time and energy – you’ll be standing up more and falling in a lot less!
The instructor will also be able to show you how to rescue yourself, getting back on the board with all your kit on, as well as how to prone paddle with your arms should you lose your paddle – remember practice makes perfect!