Coast Guard encourages safe, fun paddlecraft recreation

united states coast guard 

News Release  

May 24, 2017
U.S. Coast Guard 9th District Great Lakes
Contact: 9th District Public Affairs
Office: (216) 902-6020
After Hours: (216) 310-2608

Coast Guard encourages safe, fun paddlecraft recreation  

CLEVELAND – During National Safe Boating Week, which began Saturday and runs through Friday, the Coast Guard Great Lakes is encouraging outdoor enthusiasts to "be safe, have fun and paddle on" throughout the Great Lakes boating season.

"Anyone who plans to kayak or canoe should also plan for being in the water," said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Ninth Coast Guard District. "Eventually, all paddlers turn into swimmers." 

According to the national 2015 Recreational Boating Statistics,  the vessel types with the second and third highest percentage of boating deaths in 2015, 139 total deaths, were kayaks and canoes. Capsizing and drowning were the causes of more than two-thirds of the paddlecraft accidents and deaths in 2015.

For this reason the Coast Guard urges paddlers to wear their life jackets at all times. Paddlecraft are prone to capsizing more easily than other vessels, and their operators should be prepared to unexpectedly enter the water at any time.

Kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders, and operators of other human-powered craft are highly encouraged to heed the safety advice contained in this video while operating on rivers and other crowded waterways.

Cold water temperatures in the Great Lakes makes paddling in those bodies of water especially dangerous for people who are not appropriately dressed. Water temperature of 76 degrees F or lower is considered cold. Paddlers should dress for the water temperature to avoid drowning as a result of cold-water-shock response.

Additionally, paddlers should practice in controlled environments re-entering their vessels from the water. Many inexperienced paddlers underestimate how difficult re-entry is and find they are unable to do so after capsizing, necessitating rescues and increasing their odds of hypothermia or drowning. Paddlers who capsize and are unable to re-enter their vessels should remain with the vessel to increase their visibility to rescuers.

The American Canoe Association offers these additional Top 10 Safety Tips, which the Coast Guard encourages all paddlers to follow.