Canoeing is ‘an assumed risk’, ‘water contact’ activity however serious accidents are very rare. More people drown whilst cycling than canoeing. Accidents can be avoided by a combination of training, based on the accepted code of technique and safety; and experience gathered over a number of years, where techniques are acquired and practiced under the shadow of a leader.
Accidents can be placed in three broad categories:
- Lack of knowledge – as the saying goes ‘fore-warned is fore-armed’. You can never know enough.
- Over-estimation of ability – common with inexperienced canoeists.
- Carelessness – may affect both novice and expert. Ensure you have sound knowledge of the skills,
techniques and equipment you are using by undertaking adequate training and practise.
Some Golden Rules
- Be able to swim at least 50m in a buoyancy aid. You do not need to be able to swim vast distances but
the ability to remain confident in and under the water, without panicking, is vital.
- Wear a buoyancy aid. This should be worn whenever you get into your boat.
- Stay with the boat. In the unfortunate event that you do capsize stay with the upturned canoe. A canoe is
easier to spot than a swimmer’s head and its in-built buoyancy will help you to remain afloat.
- Never paddle alone. If anything does go wrong it is vital to have someone else along, it’s also friendlier.
- Make sure you are properly equipped for the water and weather conditions you will expect to encounter.
- Attend a first aid course and get qualified.
- Practise. Keep your skills sharp and be prepared.
Of course there are other things to be taken into consideration but common sense and reading the relevant sections of the ‘Canoe and Kayak Handbook’ published by the British Canoe Union will give you much more help with maintaining personal safety whilst canoeing.
To purchase the Canoe and Kayak Handbook visit www.bcushop.org.uk