Hopping on or in a kayak, canoe or paddleboard is a fun, easy and inexpensive way to get out to experience what Pennsylvania's waterways have to offer.
With some basic equipment and a few minutes of preparation and instruction, paddlesports can be as safe as they are fun.
Paddling is a “get wet” sport, so prepare as if you are going to get wet.
Learn how to paddle safely. You can take a classroom or online Boating Safety Education Course or try the online Paddling Sports Safety Course.Opens In A New Windo.
- Wear your life jacket.
- Expect to get wet and dress properly.
- Be prepared to swim. If the water looks too
hazardous to swim in, don’t go paddling.
- If you capsize, hold on to your boat, unless
it presents a life-threatening situation.
- Scout ahead whenever possible. Know the
- Be prepared for the weather. Get a forecast before you go.
- Wear wading shoes or tennis shoes with
wool, polypropylene, pile, or neoprene socks.
- Never take your boat over a low-head dam. Carry (portage) your boat around water you are uncertain of.
• Never boat alone.
- Keep painter lines (ropes tied to the bow)
and any other ropes coiled and secured.
• Never tie a rope to yourself or to another
paddler, especially a child.
- Kneel to increase your stability before
entering rougher water, like a rapid.
- If you collide with an obstruction, lean
- Be sure to leave a float plan.
While you should never go alone when you get out to enjoy paddlesports, the activity can be even more fun with a group. Planning and ensuring everyone along for the trip understands safety and etiquette ensures you will make the most enjoyable paddling experience. Here are some basic how-to's:
- Have a float plan, review it with the group and leave it with someone in case of an emergency.
- Everyone in the group should have the basic equipment for paddling.
- Unload quickly and keep launch area as clear as possible - because there are several vessels, without taking care, a group can overwhelm the resources of a small launch area and alienate paddlers not in your group
- Know the skill levels of the other paddlers, and paddle with the level of the lowest skilled paddler.
- More experienced paddlers take responsibility for watching for hazards and trail direction.
- As always, everyone should be familiar with the regulations for paddling on PA waters.
- All are encouraged to wear a life jacket, and to know when it is a requirement.