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PADDLE SAFETY

Being safe on the water is all about planing ahead and knowing your craft and personal limits, Below you will find some resources that will help.

Paddle Prep has been designed for all paddlers: from those who are new to paddle sports to those that are already hooked on this great lifelong activity.

The objective of Paddle Prep is to provide guidance and education on safety matters to encourage paddlers to develop their skills, knowledge and experience safely while having fun on the water.

On Paddle Prep, you can:

  • Discover ‘top tips’ before going paddling
  • Watch a demonstration of paddle strokes and rescues
  • Search for places to go paddling around Australia
  • Prepare, save and email your trip intentions to a friend
  • Find weather, tides, swell and river levels for your paddling location
  • Research what equipment you may need for your type of paddling
  • Find equipment lists for day and overnight trips
  • Search for national and state paddling and maritime organisations
  • Search for training providers and Paddle Australia Instructors

GET THE SKILLS
Capsize and self-rescue • Learn how to avoid ending up in the water by using support and bracing techniques. • Learn how to use a paddle float and stirrup. • For decked kayaks the Eskimo roll is the best and fastest self-rescue. These skills must be practised before they are really needed. Assisted rescue Using another craft to steady, empty and re-enter an upturned craft is much easier than doing it alone. A second craft can also tow you and your overturned craft to safety. A 15 metre length of rope is useful for this. Join a club or enrol in a course to gain expert instruction before you start, and to guide you until your skills develop.

IDENTIFY YOUR VESSEL
Put a name or number on your craft which can identify you. Your car registration or telephone number will help emergency services find you.

Being safe on the water starts with always wearing your lifejacket. A properly fitted lifejacket feels snug and comfortable to wear. Find one that suits you and your needs.

Let someone know before you go and tell them where you are going, your departure point and when you intend to return. If you change your plans, let them know

Stay clear of large vessels and keep out of shipping channels. Learn the right of way rules. You must always navigate on the right (starboard) side of a river or channel.

Paddle craft sit low to the water and can be difficult for other boats to see. Make yourself visible by wearing bright clothes and using fluorescent paint on your paddle. Consider fitting a flag to your kayak, and use a bright all-round light at night

You may need to communicate in an emergency or advise someone of a change of plan. Your means of communication can range from a mobile phone, flares or a distress beacon. Mobile Telephone: Carry a mobile phone in a waterproof bag.

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In an emergency you can dial 000. Marine Radio: Marine radios are an important way of notifying others in an emergency. They can also be used to stay updated on the latest weather conditions. • Use VHF channel 16 to listen out for weather broadcasts. • Know the procedures and keep your message clear. • In an emergency use VHF channel 16 or on 27MHz use channel 88. Distress beacons: A registered 406 MHz distress beacon with GPS is your best chance of being rescued. • In an emergency, activate your beacon to alert search and rescue services. • For the best chances, choose a beacon with GPS, deploy it correctly, and look after it by storing it safely and keeping your batteries in date. Flares: Ensure your flares are in date and only activate when you believe that you will be seen.

Keep watch as to what is ahead, behind and to either side of you. Look out for other vessels, swimmers and potential danger at all times.

Paddle within your limits – and that includes your craft, your experience, the conditions on the day and your level of skills. Be realistic about your fi tness and capabilities and save strength for the return journey.

Take note of these five vital checks when planning your boating trip: • Warnings current for your boating area • Weather conditions affecting safe navigation and comfort • Wind conditions • Wave conditions • Tide times Be prepared to defer your plans until another day if the winds are too strong and the waves are too big. Check the weather at bom.gov.au/marine

Stay attached – using a paddle leash will help prevent you being separated from your paddle if you capsize. If you do end up in the water, stay with your craft as it will be easier for rescuers to see you.

These guidelines provide the minimum requirements for the safe conduct of Recreational Paddling activities. This document gives a guideline to help operate a safe fun paddling activity. All Leaders are responsible to ensure that they undertake a thorough risk assessment prior to activities to ensure that additional requirements are considered and if required undertaken.