Safety Precautions for Paddle Boarders

Paddle boarding can be a fantastic and fun watersport, and in recent years has grown in popularity. With this rise in popularity, it is important that we are all aware of the necessary safety precautions when taking part. 

Over the last 10 years, the  RNLI, have attended 6,361 paddle boarders, canoers and kayakers, with incidents often taking place in the warmer summer months. 

In light of a recent paddle boarding tragedy, we would like to share some advice on how to keep yourself and others safe whilst paddle boarding on the water. 


When out on the water, it's important to always be aware of your surroundings and practice safety procedures, which could potentially save your life. Continue reading to find out our top paddle board safety tips. 


There are several different types of safety straps (often called a leash) that should be used, including waist, calf and ankle straps. It's important to note which strap is the right one to use in certain situations. If the wrong strap is chosen, accidents may occur due to changes in tidal and flowing waters. This can cause the strap to get stuck or snagged on obstacles in the water and can cause a person to get trapped or entangled, making it difficult to get yourself free.

  • Coiled straps are like a spring and are mostly used for general SUP use.
  • Straight straps have one continuous length and are mostly used for surfing.

Straps help you stay closer to your paddle board if you fall off and can help you float if you get into trouble. 

Waist straps

The family of Emma Louise Powell are campaigning for waist straps to be used more often whilst paddle boarding. There are many campaigns on the benefits of this type of strap and it is an essential topic in watersports, with many believing they are one of the best options for keeping people safe out on the water. Waist straps are mostly coiled and are ideal in situations with flowing water, where there may be a risk of entrapment from obstacles. One excellent safety feature of waist straps is their quick-release belt system. Waist straps can easily be reached if you fall into the water, get trapped in something or by the force of the water. When worn correctly, it makes it easy to be released from any dangers and it is recommended to wear over the top of a buoyancy aid.    

Ankle leash 

Ankle leashes should only be used in slow-moving rivers, coastal bays, canals and lakes, where there is no risk of snags. They are simple to wear and fit comfortably around the ankle. However, unlike waist straps, ankle and calf leashes do not have a quick-release belt system. 

Calf leash

Calf leashes should also only be used in areas where there is no risk of entrapment or snagging, such as coastal bays, lakes, canals and slow-moving rivers. These are slightly larger fits in comparison to ankle straps. 

Personal floatation device 

Whether it be a lifejacket or buoyancy aid, floatation devices are extremely important. These will help you stay afloat if you fall in. Make sure you wear one that is properly fitted and allows you to swim comfortably.  

No matter if you are a beginner or an advanced paddle boarder, there are several safety precautions that you should follow in order to stay safe when out on the water. Remember to always let people know your whereabouts and check the weather before going out on the water. Remember that safety straps should also be fitted properly and the location and activity taking place will help you determine which strap to wear. 

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