PADDLERsmart! USA Knowledge Base
Module 05 - Emergency Preparedness
Step 1: Do a head count of all the paddlers in the group—make sure everyone is accounted for.
Step 2: Throw a flotation aid to the capsized paddler to help keep them afloat and to mark their location if they submerge.
Step 3: Make sure that everyone else in the group is wearing a life jacket.
Step 4: Establish if there is any danger of being hit by other boat traffic.
Step 5: If possible, the capsized paddler should attempt to right their capsized paddle craft for re-entry.
Step 6: If the capsized paddler cannot re-board their paddle craft and it’s safe for them to swim to shore, they should swim to shore and immediately seek help.
Step 7: If the capsized paddler is unable to re-board their paddle craft or to reach shore, they should stay with their paddle craft and try to pull themselves onto the overturned hull. This will increase their visibility to other boaters.
Step 8: If necessary, the capsized paddler should use distress signals to get the attention of other boaters. They should wave their arms, and if a whistle is attached to their life jacket, they should use it to signal S.O.S and attract attention.
Step 9: If a strong current separates the capsized paddler from their paddle craft, they should raise their legs and aim their feet downstream (like they’re going down a waterslide). This position will help protect their head from colliding with a hazard.