Paddle Smart from the Start

Planning to Paddle? Know Your Limits!

When getting ready to head out on your next paddling trip, the Natural Resources Police along with the American Canoe Association want to make sure you keep these five safety tips in mind to ensure you have an enjoyable time on the water.
  1. Expect to capsize and swim occasionally when paddling a canoe, kayak, stand up paddle board (SUP) or raft. Learn more about life jackets and how they might just save your life.

    Wear Your Lifejacket

    Remember, the law in Maryland states that all recreational vessels (i.e., motorboats, sailboats, canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and any other device capable of being used for transportation on the water, when the vessel is being used for other than commercial purposes) must have at least one United States Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board. Each life jacket must be in good condition, be the proper size for the intended wearer and, very importantly, be readily accessible. Readily accessible means you must be able to put the life jacket on in a reasonable amount of time in an emergency. Life jackets should not be stowed in plastic bags or in locked or closed compartments, and they should not have other gear stowed on top of them. Preferably, they should be WORN by the intended wearer – They float, you don’t!

  2. Paddlers are boaters too and it is very important to know understand all the rules of the waters you are paddling on. Learn more about what paddlers need to know when sharing the waterways - Rules of the Road

  3. Being prepared is an important part of any boating adventure. Make sure you consider the following safety tips the next time you head out on the water - Safety Check

  4. Cold water is extremely dangerous and many boaters do not realize that cold water immersion can occur in water as warm as 77 degrees Fahrenheit! Learn more about protecting yourself in this environment - Cold Water Safety

  5. Take an on-water course - whether it's a safety or skill development course, on-water instruction provides the information you need for canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, rafting or safety & rescue. Visit for more information on classes.

In addition to the "Top Five" here are 5 more to round out the "Top Ten"!

  1. Key points on how to appropriately share, and enjoy our natural paddling resources - Practices, Ethics and Conduct

  2. Good things to contemplate before you leave shore - Know Your Limits

  3. The basics, just in case... River Paddler's Guide to Rescue

  4. Best Practices for Paddlers and Paddle sports programs.

  5. Getting ready to schedule your next trip? Learn more useful tips - Trip Preparation and Planning