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Paddle Sport Safety Tips from WCSO Marine Safety

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office wants those on the waterways to have a safe and enjoyable day on their canoes and kayaks.

Before you go paddling this summer, there are some important things you should know to keep yourself safe. Canoeing and kayaking are a lot of fun, but if you don't know the dangers, you could get into trouble on the water. Here are some tips for keeping dry and steering clear of danger:

CANOE/KAYAK SAFETY TIPS:

  • ALWAYS WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET – IT IS THE LAW TO HAVE A LIFE JACKET FOR EACH PERSON IN A CANOE/KAYAK! You never know when you might fall out or tip over unexpectedly.
  • ALCOHOL AND WATER ACTIVITIES DON’T MIX –canoeing, kayaking, tubing, and swimming– Your judgment and abilities will be diminished by alcohol. Exposure to summer sun intensifies the effects of alcohol. Be responsible and safe at all times on the water.
  • TO GET INTO YOUR CANOE/KAYAK:
    • HAVE SOMEONE HOLD THE CANOE/KAYAK STEADY - you don't want to tip the canoe/kayak before you even get out on the water!
    • CROUCH LOW - keep your knees bent and
    • GRAB THE SIDES OF THE CANOE/KAYAK FOR BALANCE as you walk to your seat
    • ALWAYS WALK ALONG THE CENTER - keeping your feet on the centerline will help keep the canoe/kayak from rocking.
  • STAY LOW - do not stand up or walk in your canoe/ kayak when you are away from shore.
  • AVOID SUDDEN OR JERKY MOVEMENTS - rocking from side to side could cause the canoe/kayak to tip over.
  • BE AWARE OF THE CURRENTS IN THE WATER - you don't want to end up floating farther downstream than you planned. If the current starts to pull you along faster or you see lots of rocks in the water ahead of you paddle away from them or paddle towards the shore.
  • ALWAYS SIT ON THE SEATS OR IN THE CENTER OF THE CANOE/KAYAK - sitting on the side of a canoe will cause it to tip over.
  • STAY AWAY FROM LOW HANGING TREES AND BRANCHES NEAR THE SHORE.
  • DO NOT CANOE/KAYAK IN BAD WEATHER.
  • AVOID LETTING BIG WAVES HIT THE SIDE OF YOUR CANOE/KAYAK - always try to keep your canoe at a right angle to the waves otherwise the wave might push your canoe over.
  • IF YOUR CANOE/KAYAK TIPS OVER:
    • DON'T PANIC
    • STAY WITH YOUR CANOE/KAYAK
    • PADDLE OR PUSH YOUR CANOE TO SHORE - with the help of the other person in your canoe, you can get out in shallow water and flip the canoe to dump out the water and climb in. Your canoe will float even if it’s full of water until you can get to shore to empty it.
    • ALWAYS BRING ALONG EXTRA CLOTHING IN A WATERPROOF CONTAINER- you want to be prepared in case your canoe tips or the weather changes.
  • BE SURE TO BRING THE PROPER EQUIPTMENT:
    • SUN PROTECTION - hats, sunscreen, long sleeves and pants
    • FIRST AID KIT
    • PLENTY OF FOOD AND WATER
    • PERSONAL FLOATATION DEVICE- PFD (LIFE VESTS)
    • MAP - be sure you know where you are so you do not get lost!
  • TIE ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT TO THE CANOE - put your equipment into a waterproof bag to keep it dry and tie it to one of the center beams in the canoe so that you don't lose everything if your canoe tips over.
  • DO NOT LITTER - carry out everything you bring in - the animals don't like a messy home.

 

Once you learn these important tips, you'll be set to go! So grab your paddle and life jacket, and, always remember to canoe safely and have fun on the water!

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