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Tips to stay safe when paddleboarding

With the rise in popularity of paddleboarding, it is important to stay safe so that you can enjoy another day at our beach and in our seas.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when paddleboarding:

Be aware of the conditions

It’s essential to be aware of the conditions before you even put your paddleboard in the water. Check the weather, visibility, and sea state to assess if it is safe to be out on the water but not just what's in front of you - check the forecast too. Windy conditions can create choppy waters which can make paddling difficult or dangerous and offshore winds are pretty dangerous to go out paddling in - read our previous blog on staying safe in offshore winds here.

Wear appropriate gear

Even in the height of summer, our sea can be pretty cold, so it's important to wear appropriate gear such as a wetsuit and buoyancy aid. The wetsuit will keep the chill off of you if you do need to await rescue. Also consider wearing brightly coloured clothing that stand out against the colour of the water, which will make it easier for lifeguards or rescuers to spot you if you drift away from shore, for example.

Wear a buoyancy aid

Choose a buoyancy aid that fits correctly - it shouldn't rise up when tightened - and is suitable for your size. This will ensure that should you fall off, you will float for longer while awaiting rescue.

Take a signalling device

Having a means of calling for help (waterproof and fully charged VHF radio for example, or in the least, carrying a water-suitable whistle) and knowing how to use it, can be crucial in a difficult situation. A phone's signal won't be powerful offshore.

Stay with your paddleboard - and attach your leash.

If you get into trouble, it can be tempting to get off and swim to shore, but you should always stay with your kit - it's easier to spot and will keep you afloat. Attach your leash, so you don't lose your paddleboard should you fall in.

Use the buddy system

Always go to the beach with a friend or family member. This way, you can watch out for each other and alert the lifeguard, RNLI, or other beachgoers if you get into trouble. If you do go solo, ensure you tell someone where you're going, and when you are expected to be back, so they know to look out for you.

Don't use inflatables - including paddleboards in offshore wind

As we outline above, offshore winds can easily carry inflatable toys, rafts, and paddleboards away from the shore, putting you at risk of being caught in a dangerous situation. Stick to non-inflatable beach equipment.

Learn some basic rescue skills

Take the time to learn basic water safety and rescue skills, such as treading water, floating, and building your board paddle and swim strength. These skills can be invaluable in the event of an emergency.

Know when to call for help

Don't be shy, we'd all rather you come home safely! Attract attention by waving your arms above your head and shouting for assistance. Lifeguards and rescue teams are trained to assist anyone in need, so don't be afraid to seek help if you require it.

Know your limits

If in doubt, opt for activities closer to the shoreline during offshore wind periods and save your paddle session for another day.

When visiting the beach, it is essential to be mindful of the conditions and potential hazards to help keep you safe when playing on our coastline.

Hopefully, by following these preventative measures and educating yourself, friends, and family, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience at our beach.

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