Canoeing Tips

As the weather grows warmer, many individuals will return to water activities such as swimming and canoeing. Before planning a canoeing trip, there are a number of safety considerations to keep in mind. These canoeing tips can help to keep individuals and families safe while out in the canoe.

In the Canoe

When in the canoe, it is important to always “stay low.” Canoes are more stable with a lower center of gravity. When entering and exiting the canoe, individuals should keep the stay-low rule in mind to prevent tipping and instability. Keep the knees bent and maintain a crouching position. Likewise, individuals should stay low during the remainder of the trip. Avoid standing up, especially when a strong wind or other factors may jeopardize balance.

Be Aware of Surroundings

It is important for individuals to constantly be aware of their surroundings when in the canoe. This is especially important when in an area that is shared with other canoes, kayaks, or boats. Lack of awareness can lead to canoe collisions and other accidents. If the waterway being traveled on has a “traffic system” or certain routes that riders are expected to take, they should be obeyed.

Wearing a Life Jacket

A study by the Outdoor Industry Foundation reveals that roughly 75 percent of paddle-sport related deaths involved individuals who were not wearing a life jacket. A life jacket can be the key determinant of safety when individuals are faced with hazardous weather or water conditions which can lead to capsizing, collisions and other accidents. Children should always wear life jackets, regardless of potentially hazardous outdoor conditions.

Clothing and Equipment

When in the canoe, riders should dress comfortably and appropriately for the weather. Rider should always wear shoes. Riverbeds, rocks, and rough terrains can be hazardous to those who are not properly clothed, including shoes. Clothing should be comfortable and facilitating for the movements required of paddling. If the water temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, a wetsuit is recommended. It is also recommended to bring additional clothing in a waterproof container in the event that the canoe tips or the weather changes.

Canoe Safety

Individuals should take the following canoe safety precautions:

  • Check the weather forecast before canoeing to ensure safe conditions
  • Avoid jerky or sudden movements in the canoe, which can disturb the canoe’s equilibrium
  • Never sit on the side of the canoe, as this will lead to capsizing
  • Be mindful of the water’s currents to avoid being carried off-path or into dangerous territory
  • Avoid branches and low-hanging trees along the shoreline
  • Bring a first-aid kit in the event of minor injuries such as cuts and scrapes
  • Stay protected from the sun with sunscreen, hats, and long-sleeve clothing
  • Bring plenty of food and water to avoid dehydration and hunger during a long day