From the Mag | The Universal Safety Rules

Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt
Photo: Aaron Black-Schmidt

From the Mag | The Universal Safety Rules

Thou Shalt Be Careful

The beauty of SUP lies in its endless variety and breadth of extremity. The sport offers everything from watching ducks fly overhead on mellow river paddles to chasing overhead bumps in smoke-on-the-water conditions in the open ocean. In truth, either can be dangerous. Accidents do happen, but most can be avoided with a little foresight and preparation. Here are our five rules for staying safe, no matter what.

Paddle with a partner. You never know when a mishap will happen to you. You might be surfing tiny waves and take a board to your dome, your leash might snap two miles offshore or your fin could fall out five miles from your take out point. Having a partner (or partners) increases the chances of an accident being nothing more than a funny story you tell over food that night.

Wear a leash. This should go without saying but we're constantly surprised by how many people we see on the water sans leash, especially beginners. A leash is the simplest way to stay with your craft, no matter the conditions. If you've paddled for long enough, you've had a session where you headed out on the water in perfectly calm conditions only to retreat an hour later with the wrath of nature unloading upon you. Don't be a statistic. Wear a leash no matter what (and a quick-release leash on the river).

Wear a PFD. After wearing an inflatable PFD for a while, you hardly even know it's there. They're so low profile and so minimal one should just live in your car—and go out with you every time you paddle. CO2 cartridges to blow them up cheap and you're unlikely to have even have to use them. Plus, it'll get you out of tickets in many places.

Be prepared. This includes the rules above. But it also means checking the weather forecast, letting someone know where and when you're going paddling, wearing the right clothing or suit and being ready for the possibility of something going wrong. Just thinking about the what could happen and what you would do should things go wrong is a great place to start. Because there are two types of people: those who've had accidents and those who are going to.

Carry a phone. Smartphones are a great resource when you're on the water. They can act as a GPS, a fitness recorder, an emergency line and, of course, a recorder of your good times. There are a lot of great waterproof cases out there. Get one and take that phone with you. It's smart.

There are so many ways to stay safe. Find out which tips will help you the most.