Stand up paddleboarding has grown in popularity across the world in recent years, and very noticeably in Vietnam. Up and down the country more and more people are taking to SUP, both individually and as part of growing clubs. There are loads of benefits to SUP – it’s a low impact, full body workout that’s great for cardio fitness and burning calories, not to mention being a really fun way to experience the water!
But whenever you are out on the water, safety should always come first. Even experienced professionals can get in to difficulty! Whether you are a just starting out with SUP or have plenty of experience, check out our top safety equipment from the lifesaving experts at VSLC!
1. Know your Limits
Whenever you are heading to the water, whatever your activity, it’s important to know your limits. Make sure you start learning SUP in calm, safe conditions, and build up slowly with the support of competent people.
It is also good to practice, as part of a group in safe conditions, how well you can manage certain situations. Can you lie down on the board and paddle with your hands if you lose your paddle? Can you climb back on to the board if you fall off? Practice will help you understand your limits as well as improve them!
2. Check your equipment carefully
Make sure your equipment is in good condition before you enter the water. Your paddleboard should be pumped up to the recommended PSI, your paddle should be put together correctly, and your buoyancy aid and safety equipment should always be checked carefully.
The essential equipment you should always have is:
- A stand up paddle board (SUP)
- SUP Paddle
- Personal flotation device (see point 4)
- Fin(s) for the SUP
- SUP leash
- Rescue whistle and mobile phone
- Water bottle or hydration reservoir.
We also recommend carrying a small personal first aid kit in a waterproof dry bag.
Depending on how you plan to use your SUP, you may also bring additional equipment, including deck bags / dry bags, two way or VHF radios, GPS and compass and more.
3. Wear a leash
Use an ankle leash! An ankle leash prevents you from being separated from the board if you fall off. If you are in flowing water, you should wear a quick release waist belt leash instead.
4. Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
Always wear a suitable PFD! A personal flotation device is essential for safety when using a SUP, no matter your ability. Check out our range of RESTUBE products – which are lightweight, CO2 powered flotation devices engineered in Germany and officially imported to Vietnam. They are lightweight and designed to make sure they do not interfere with your SUP experience.
5. Don’t go alone
Organise to paddle with friend, or as part of a group or club. It’s much safer than going alone, and is much more fun!
Always let someone on land know when you are going paddleboarding. Tell them where you are going, so they know to call for help if you do not return as expected.
6. Check the forecast
Always check the weather forecast carefully, and ensure you check the forecast for the specific location you are heading to and for the whole time that you plan to be out.
You should check the temperature, cloud cover and wind (direction and speed), to determine if the conditions are safe for you and your ability, and so you can plan to dress accordingly.
You should also learn how the weather conditions affect the specific area you are in. On rivers, rainfall upstream can cause water levels and the speed of flow to change rapidly, and in mountainous areas can result in flash flooding. Fast flowing water is extremely dangerous and requires advanced training.
At sea, or on a lake, a small increase in wind speed or a change in direction can make paddling in the direction you wish to head extremely difficult, and if it is strong wind, can affect your ability to paddle at all.
7. Join a local group
Leading on from the last point, local knowledge is really important. Joining up with a local club or group can help get you that local knowledge. Every area has different hazards and it is important to understand those before you get into the water!
8. Make sure you can communicate
Take a phone in a water proof casing so that you can call for help if you need to. It is also a good idea to take a whistle so you can draw attention to yourself if needed.
9. Don’t panic!
If things ever start to go wrong, the most important thing is to stay calm and not panic. If you get separated from your board and are in difficulty, remember to stay calm, float on your back and call for assistance when you can. Stay calm and allow yourself time to think and make a plan.
10. Prepare yourself
Aside from ensuring you have all essential safety equipment with you and your equipment is in good working order, you need to make sure you are ready as well. Make sure you are appropriately dressed! You should always dress for the water temperature and assume you will fall in, even if you don’t plan to.
If it is sunny, make sure you protect yourself – wear UV protective clothing, a sun hat, polarized sunglasses and wear suncream. Make sure you stay hydrated!
In cold weather and cold water, you should wear a wetsuit or neoprene top and shorts, and consider neoprene hats, gloves and boots.
Make sure you wear appropriate footwear when paddleboarding, such as water shoes or neoprene boots.
You are all set!
These simple safety points are designed to keep you safe and make sure your SUP experience is fun and enjoyable! By making sure that you have the right equipment, it is good condition, you plan carefully and go with friends, you can make sure you always stay safe when out on the water!
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.