Standup paddle boarding is really a very safe sport, but since you’re out on the water, there are a few things you need to do to keep it that way. The “Four Ws” — Where, Waves, Wind and Weather — are among the things to take into consideration when choosing a place to paddle. This video covers these and other important safety check points.
A conservative and safety-conscious attitude is important when on the water and even as you’re planning for your trip. Picking the location for paddling is a great way of ensuring a safe outing. Things to consider are wind, waves, water and weather.
A novice paddler should pick a location sheltered from wind and waves. The ideal place for the beginner has warm water, good access for launching, lots of places to get out on shore and minimal motorized traffic. If dealing with cold water and/or weather be sure to dress appropriately for the conditions.
The Coast Guard counts a SUP board as a “vessel”, which means they require you have a life jacket and whistle when outside a swimming or surf area. There are many great life jacket choices available; one designed for paddling will ensure mobility and be all-day comfortable. If you’re a strong swimmer you can consider an inflatable PFD, more low profile and out of the way.
A leash is also highly recommended because it keeps you from getting separated from your board. When in the surf or out in open ocean you really shouldn’t be without one. Even if the wind isn’t blowing when you start, it can come up and quickly blow your board away if you swim, leaving you in a dangerous position.
Wind, lightning, fog and quickly-changing temperatures are weather dangers to avoid. Check the weather forecast before going out. Motorized traffic is another hazard to consider; grant any powerboat the right-of-way.