Are you taking the right precautions while paddleboarding and kayaking?

SPOKANE, Wash. — Some fun, summer activities can turn scary if you’re not prepared, especially activities on the water.

Washington State Parks and our own local law enforcement are urging safety on paddleboards, kayaks and canoes this season.

We’ve already had many drowning accidents and tragedies over the summer in our region, so it’s important to be prepared before you go and practice safety when you’re out there on the water.

According to the state parks website, before you head out on the water, you’re encouraged to check local guidelines and follow public health rules.

Washington’s diverse waterways require different skills, preparation and safety equipment for paddlers.

Not all vessels are created equal and not all paddlers should venture out on any waterway.

Make sure your vessel and skill level are suitable for the paddling conditions you’re choosing.

Good swimming skills and practice on a small, sheltered lake are recommended before paddling on open waterways.

Also, know that kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards (SUP) are subject to boating laws and regulations.

You are urged to boat responsibly to prevent accidents, minimize impacts, and avoid conflicts with other boaters.

Following are guidelines to help you prepare before you head out on your paddling adventure:


  • Get educated
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Always wear a leash (SUP)
  • Carry essential gear
  • Check the weather
  • File a float plan
  • Label your paddlecraft


  • Paddle with a group. Go out with at least three people and stay close enough for visual or verbal contact.
  • Expect the unexpected – you may capsize or fall in the water. On rivers, keep your feet off the bottom and pointed downstream to avoid getting snagged or stuck.
  • Know how to rescue yourself and others in the event of a capsize. Consider carrying a throw bag, rescue kit and a towing system.
  • Stay near the shore when there’s a lot of boat traffic. Approaching waves head on will help keep water out of your vessel to avoid capsizing the boat.
  • Scan ahead and look for hazards like overhanging branches/trees, rocks, low bridges or rapids.
  • When in doubt, get out and scout! Don’t take a chance of paddling rapids or currents you are not used to. Make sure to check for rocks that are dangerously close to the surface.
  • Self-care is important so you stay alert. Know your limits, stay hydrated, etc.

For more complete safety info from Washington State Parks, see this page on the official website.

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