SUP Safety: One Paddle Shop’s Perspective

Taking SUP Safety Seriously

As our regular readers know, we’ve focused a lot on safety this summer, in light of what seems like a high number of SUP-related drownings.  And we’ve had good conversations on our social media about how to improve use of pdfs and leashes.  Some of that discussion focused on shops and rental facilities.

We recently heard from one shop who wanted to share what it does to make sure clients are safe on the water.   Micki Michelle of Jersey Paddleboards at Greenwood Marina in New York sent us this note about her shop’s safety protocols:

Taking SUP Safety Seriously

“I’ve seen a lot off press lately on unsafe paddling with unfortunate consequences. I’m shocked about the amount of people who come to my shop who have no clue about safety concerns. Our staff meets every rental client on our small launch beach. We review basic information about the board, like where to stand, how to hold the paddle, etc. but then we add what I believe is our responsibility. We ask EVERYONE to wear a leash and we explain why. We stress that it is just as important as your life jacket. We  stress  that the life jacket enhances  swimming ability but it is not a substitute for knowing how to swim.  We won’t let anyone out on the water who can’t swim . We also stress the following:

  • Stay on your knees until away from docks/boats and return to knee position upon returning
  • Channel Markers: what they are and why you should not linger in them..stay to the right and allow ample space for boats to pass in the channel
  • Do not swim in the middle of the lake as you are not visable
  • Refer to our waterproof map given to all renters identifying safe swimming areas, recapping all the info listed above and our phone number as well as the Coast Guard contact number.
Taking SUP Safety Seriously
We have a jet ski so we can patrol the lake to make sure all is well and to aid in the event of a rescue.  We pay for boat licenses for our entire staff so this can be done by everyone.  On our group tours, events or lessons we have a staff ration of one to five participants.  Each employee carries a radio, tow bag and one has a first aid kit. For our evening events, we add  safety lights which are Coast Guard approved to be seen up to two miles and each staff member has a light-up paddle on the blade for extra visibility. We do an average for 50-70 rentals a day and have had not a single incident. People leave our shop knowing how to be safe whenever they paddle.  They leave our shop with the understanding that they need to check the weather and water temps. We have had many customers come to see us again, who say they were on vacation somewhere else and rented boards without any safety instruction.  It’s so nice to hear that they felt good  knowing how to be safe  after renting from us! I think any shop, be it retail, rental or both, needs to be open to giving people the tools and information necessary to groom good paddlers. It could be as easy as a printed info sheet. I added some pics on our staff and clients. I’m incredibly proud of our staff and protocol. We don’t shove it in people’s faces: we are playful with the information so not to come off as Know-It-Alls ..we make it fun, informational and it appears to be appreciated.”

Taking SUP Safety Seriously

We’d love to hear from other shops on their safety protocols as well!

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Lisa
Lisa is managing editor of PaddleMonster.com and is an avid paddler of all the things - including sup, SurfSki, outrigger canoe and prone, though she especially enjoys paddle surfing and downwinding. She is a former journalist with more than 30 years experience in print and broadcast journalism and in government communications. She is a six-time Chattajack finisher, racing both sup and OC2. When not paddling, she is an outdoor instructor.

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