Paddler's Safety Checklist





Always wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) that is secured (zipped up) and properly fitted. Wear a Fox40 Whistle (not on the PFD zipper) and know the three whistle signals.


When paddling in moving water, wear a helmet in all closed boats (kayaks). Wear a helmet in all open boats (canoes) in Class II and above. Always wear full coverage shoes when on or near the water.


Never paddle alone, stay with your group. Do not let the group pressure you beyond your capabilities and limitations.  Kneel in your canoe while in rapids for stability


Know water class definitions and the degree of difficulty to paddle. Level changes can alter the difficulty to paddle.  Do not paddle during high water levels where there is not a clear bank landing area. Stay clear of Strainers.


Stay hydrated and drink water (not Alcohol)!


Secure and waterproof all gear including glasses.


Dress for anticipated temperatures and sun (dry or wet). Remember that spring and fall water temperatures can be much colder then the air temperature and can result in hypothermia.


Ensure that your craft will float if capsized. Install floatation bags in all non-inflatable craft if possible. Also install bow and stern painters and grab loops.


Make sure your boat is outfitted safely and you can exit without entanglement.  Never tie a line to yourself, paddle, child or pet.


Know you craft’s carrying capacity. Carrying more than two adult paddlers in an open canoe is not recommended.


Let others know about your plans on the water. Leave a float plan with someone who can track your day.


If you capsize, hold on to your boat. Get to the upstream end so that you cannot be caught between the boat and a rock or other obstacle. Release your craft if it will improve your chances for rescue.


If swimming in fast moving water, lie on your back with your feet held high and pointed downstream.  Do not stand in water above your knees.


Contact NCSP/LDC if you have other safety questions.


Stay SAFE, enjoy the environment and have FUN!