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Paddle boarding is awesome fun. We get to paddle out on our SUPs into the world and explore. You might be paddling on a deserted river, tropical island or inner city canal but the enjoyment is still the same. To be able to repeatedly enjoy great paddle sessions we need to stay safe. Leading by example for many nations around the world where stand up paddle boarding is booming, the United States Coast Guard, charged with protecting water users in and around the USA, decided that a SUP, paddle board, etc when beyond the narrow limits of a “swimming, surfing or bathing area,” is a vessel and therefore the appropriate safety devices are necessary.

The USCG rules in more detail:

Life jackets:

  • Each paddler 13 years of age or older must have a USCG approved Type I, II, III, or appropriate Type V life jacket available.
  • A child 12-years old or younger must wear their USCG-approved life jacket.
  • The jacket must be in “serviceable condition,” without rips, tears or deterioration that will diminish its performance.
  • The jacket must be of an appropriate size and fit for the wearer.
  • Belt pouch-type inflatable PFDs must be worn on the person to meet the life jacket regulation.
  • For all life jackets, be sure to read the label to know if special requirements are involved for that device.

Other gear:

  • A whistle or other sound producing device must be carried to warn other boaters.
  • If you’re on the water after sunset, you need to have a flashlight, or similar lighting device, to warn other boaters.

What you need to do:

  • As the vessel operator, you need to follow the Navigation Rules.
  • You are also required to report any boating accident or injury to the local reporting authority, either the USCG or other agency that has been delegated that authority.

So, be safe out there when you paddle board, and carry a life jacket, whistle, etc, and always be leashed to your board.

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