Thursday, June 29, 2017

Safety on the Water

Summertime is the perfect time to take advantage of the great paddling adventures Calhoun County has to offer. There are many exciting places to hit the water, but remember, safety first! Keep these five tips in mind for a safe and fun trip.

1. Wear a life jacket!

There have been multiple instances of drowning in Alabama this year, most could have been prevented if the individual was wearing a life jacket. Alabama law requires all children under the age of 8 to wear a life jacket while on the water. Although this law is aimed towards children, people of all ages should be wearing a life jacket at all times while in the water. This one piece of equipment, often overlooked, could mean the difference between life and death.

2. Take a course

Before beginning a water adventure, it is encouraged that first time paddlers take a safety course. There are many skilled instructors around the county that can teach paddlers basic safety and directional skills to make the trip easier to enjoy.

The Cheaha Canoe Club has classes for beginners and more skilled paddlers. This class is led by certified American Canoe Association instructors and requires an RSVP, as they only take small groups at a time.

Kids ages 9-18 can join the 4-H River Kids program. This program is designed to give kids the opportunity to acquire paddling skills, learn about ecology, and water safety. 

3. Never paddle alone

It is important to never get on the water by alone. In the event of an emergency, having an extra person to call for help or administer first aid can be very helpful. Plus, it’s always nice to share the adventure and beautiful scenery with a friend!

4. Know where you’re going

Be sure to make sure the area you’re paddling is appropriate for your skill level. Beginners should stick with Class I rapids, where the water is moving but still easy to manage. Review maps and trails to ensure you don’t end up in water that you cannot navigate.

5. Plan ahead

Check the weather conditions. Be aware of water and weather temperatures. If there is low visibility or fog, stay off the water. Check water levels. If the water levels are too high, it can be very dangerous. The currents may be too heavy and debris may clog up the rivers.

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