Don’t be afraid to fall in the water—just be prepared for it. Whether you get splashed or dunked, getting wet is to be expected with paddle sports! However, a planned swim is a much different scenario than an unexpected fall overboard or capsizing situation. Remember, even if you don’t fall overboard, other paddlers who do have an emergency may panic and need your assistance on the water.
If someone in your paddle party falls overboard and needs assistance, your first reaction should be to throw them a flotation device, a buoyant heaving line or a throw rope bag. Make sure you toss the rescue device slightly past the capsized paddler so that they will have ample opportunity to grasp it while you pull it toward you. It’s best to throw the rescue device from shore, but if you must throw it from your paddle craft, watch your OWN balance!
If using a rescue throw bag, always open the bag to release the rope and be sure to securely grab the inboard end of the device before launching it toward the person in trouble. Rescue throw bags usually have a minimum of 50 feet of buoyant rope inside, but the rope will not release properly if the bag is tightly sealed.