Top Paddle Safety Tips
Brunswick County is a mecca for paddle sports enthusiasts. With access to the Cape Fear River, Brunswick River, and Sturgeon Creek, there are plenty of places to explore. From the explosion of Stand Up Paddleboarding to companies like Mahanaim Adventures that offer guided paddle tours, this area brings paddlers out.
The American Canoe Association states that the South Atlantic region, which includes Brunswick County and the Cape Fear, has the largest percentage of kayaking and canoeing participants in the nation and is second in paddleboarding.
It is no surprise: paddling is the perfect fit for any level of fitness and is fairly easy to conquer. Plus, as reflected in the American Canoe Association’s nationwide survey, it is a great way to get exercise, be with family and friends, and observe nature all in one trip!
But as over 21.7 million get out their paddles (and that number continues to go up), how do we ensure we are keeping ourselves, our friends and our family safe while out there?
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 10-5, based in Southport, has top tips for paddle safety that anyone who paddles should read. Be sure to know the requirements as well as the recommendations!
Required paddle equipment:
- USGC approved, Type I, II or III PFD (if under 13 years old, the PFD must be worn at all times).
- Sound Producing Device, such as a Whistle
- Navigational Light, such as a handheld waterproof flashlight (for waters under USGC jurisdiction, such as coastal waters, or on inland waters from Sunset to Sunrise).
- Daytime/Nighttime Visual Distress Signals, such as 3 aerial flares (for waters under USCG jurisdiction, such as coastal waters) or approved Distress Flag for day use only.
Recommended paddle equipment:
- Spare paddle
- VHF radio and GPS locator
- Compass and chart or map
- Throw bags and other rescue gear
- “River” knife
- Bilge pump and/or bailer
- Self-rescue devices (paddle float /sling / tow rope)
- Drinking water & snacks
- UV eye protection
- First aid kit with matches
- Small repair kit with duct tape
- Drybag with extra clothing
Other recommendations for paddle safety:
- Be a swimmer
- File a float plan: floatplancentral.cgaux.org
- Assess your boat’s flotation needs
- Wear appropriate clothing – always dress for immersion in cold water (wetsuits/drysuits when water is less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Wear a hat or helmet
- Wear proper footwear
- Wear sunscreen
To see all the recommended Paddling Best Practices, get this brochure.
And now, fully prepared and ready to go, get out there and start paddling!