It can happen at the drop of a hat. You’re SUPing down the river, when all of a sudden a current takes you and you get knocked off, hit a rock, and cut your leg. Or perhaps you’re enjoying a solo paddle on calm waters, and a not-so-friendly bee lands on and stings you, and you’re allergic. Get your first aid kit under control and fully-stocked before any potential paddle-related injuries occur. Read along for four important first aid and safety tips you need to know before a paddle to start your trip off on the right foot.
- Get Your Survival Gear In Order
You never know what situation you might end up in, especially if you’re taking overnight paddle trips often. Invest in the necessities that you’ll need if something goes awry. Headlamps, water containers, waterproof matches, duct tape, and extra batteries are all things you should have in your safety arsenal. The last thing you want is to be unexpectedly stuck in the cold wilderness, so having a SOL Emergency bivvy can definitely come in handy to keep you warm. And don’t forget the golden item, Aquaseal, which can be used for just about any small leak or tear in your gear.
- Stock Up on Safety Equipment
The more protective gear you carry, the less likely you are to be stuck in a sticky and even dangerous situation. As a kayaker or SUPer, it’s essential to carry the bare minimum of safety gear required for all paddler types and skill levels. While this can vary depending on the trip type and location, here’s a list of basic safety gear we recommend:
- PFDs — A personal flotation device should be worn by anyone who steps foot onto a kayak or SUP. They provide buoyancy if you happen to fall in the water or capsize, and may even provide an extra layer of insulation in the cold.
- Leash — Essential for any SUPer regardless of water selection, be it a lake, or river. A leash can save your life in the event of an unexpected swim off the board.
- First Aid Kit — As with any adventure, a first aid kit should be at the top of your list for things to bring. Store your kit in a waterproof bag or box (we like this one) in a spot that is easy to access at a moment’s notice contents should include everything from allergy and general medicine, wound care supplies, cleansers, and a few tools, like scissors and tweezers.
- Understand First Aid Basics
It’s a good idea to have some first aid knowledge and experience under your belt, no matter how experienced of a paddler you are. Knowing how to clean and dress a wound is very important in order to prevent infection, which can be common in natural waters. Another must-know? CPR. Brush up on how to administer CPR in the event that a person you are with needs it. You could save a person’s life — and that is essential in itself.
- Adventure Smart
The reality is, you may not need to bring all of the things for each and every paddle adventure you head out on. Prepare for each adventure by knowing exactly where you are going, and pack accordingly. Check the weather in advance — is there a chance of a surprise summer thunderstorm? If you’re having too much fun, might you decide to stay later than planned? No matter the circumstance, plan your adventures smart simply by being prepared and thinking of all of the “what-ifs” before heading out on your trip.
While, for the most part, we all enjoy injury-free SUP and kayak paddle trips, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. Set yourself up for success by following these four first aid and safety tips before your next big paddle, and you’ll be stress-free and ready for the max amount of fun to be had.