Coast Guard encourages safe paddlesport practices
Paddlesports continue to be the fastest growing segment of recreational boating, with more than 450,000 registered paddlecraft in the Great Lakes region, according to a release from the United States Coast Guard.
“It’s like riding a bike: inexpensive, accessible and fun," said Mike Baron, recreational safe boating specialist for the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District. “Don’t cheap out on your life; get the right gear for your safety.”
Paddlers are more exposed to the elements than boaters on power and sail craft and should wear the personal protective clothing, including dry or wet suits, appropriate for the water temperature where they are paddling, according to the Coast Guard.
“Dress for the swim, it’s not if, but when,” Baron said.
Paddlers also need to equip their boats with required and recommended safety gear, such as a hand-held VHF-FM radio, a personal locator beacon and flares.
New and inexperienced paddlers should seek out paddler education before heading out on the water. Safety courses are offered through the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and other state and local agencies, often at little or no cost.