If you’re lucky enough to book a trip with a reputable camping firm, you’ll find that there are a wide range of activities available to keep you and the family busy. Canoeing is a real favourite, but if you decide to have fun on the water, it is important to respect a few safety rules to ensure a good time is had by all without incident. Keep reading to learn 5 important safety tips when paddling.
1 – Wear Your Life Jacket!
It doesn’t matter if you can swim like Ian Thorpe; you must never go canoeing without a life jacket. If you fall out of the canoe, the current can quickly whisk you away and no amount of swimming prowess will help. A lifejacket provides you with much-needed buoyancy in case you end up in the water. Make sure it fits snugly, as an over-sized flotation device can put you at risk.
2 – Steer Clear of Tidal Waters
Tidal waters should only be navigated by vastly experienced paddlers; everyone else needs to stay away. A tide of even five miles an hour is enough to overpower the best swimmers. Eddies and undertows are also hazards as they can suck you underwater in a matter of moments. Finally, don’t paddle in very cold water as it can cause involuntary breathing spasms that can temporarily paralyse you when submerged.
3 – Be Prepared
Experienced paddlers know that they should have certain items at their disposal in case the river takes them on an unexpected path and they get lost. Carry a mobile phone in a waterproof bag, sun cream, hat, sunglasses, drinking water, a penknife and a First Aid Kit for starters.
4 – Don’t Go Alone
Even paddlers with years of experience tend to go out with at least one other person. While you shouldn’t have any issues in the water as long as you choose a relatively calm river, having someone with you is a matter of common sense. If you encounter difficulties, this person can help or call for emergency assistance.
5 – Stay Clean
Although the stretch of water you paddle in will ideally be clean and fresh, there’s a pretty good chance that it will contain contaminants. Bandage up any cuts before paddling and thoroughly wash your hands when finished. Poor hygiene can lead to viral infections such as Weill’s disease which is carried in rat’s urine and contaminated water. While such infections are extremely rare, caution is always the best step.