PADDLERsmart! Canada Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Boat Operation



As a paddler, you are completely responsible for your own safety, the safety of every passenger on your paddle craft and the safety of other boaters on the water. You must also be courteous to other boaters, swimmers and to those on shore when paddling.

YOU are responsible for EVERYTHING that happens on your paddle craft. This includes:

  • Making sure everyone in your group is wearing a life jacket.
  • Knowing your own skill level and planning your trip accordingly.
  • NEVER operating a paddle craft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • NEVER operating in a careless, reckless or negligent manner.
  • Making sure your paddle craft has been maintained and is seaworthy (it must be watertight and undamaged).
  • Having the required safety equipment on board and knowing how to use it.
  • Completing a Pre-Departure Checklist and having a safety discussion with your paddle party.
  • Filing a float plan with a responsible person on shore.
  • Checking the local weather conditions and checking for local hazards.
  • Knowing the ‘rules of the road’ (the navigation rules).
  • Knowing both federal and state regulations.
  • Abiding by Homeland Security measures.
  • Knowing self-rescue techniques.


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