Northwest Indiana Paddling Association


Safety is a personal responsibility.

Paddling, like most other outdoor activities has inherent risks that must be managed. The rivers and lakes we paddle on must be respected, and it is the responsibility of anyone taking part in this activity to be aware of their limits, and to seek training and guidance from more experienced paddlers. While we should be able to rely on our fellow paddlers to help when trouble strikes on the water, we should never knowingly put ourselves in situations beyond our abilities. Doing so puts not only ourselves in danger, it increases the risk to our partners that must come to our rescue.

There is great pleasure and reward in paddling, but only if we go safely out onto the water.

Some Basic Safety Guidelines:

Wear your PFD (personal floatation device). Always.

Check the weather, don’t go out in threatening conditions.

Tell someone where you are going, and when to expect you back.

Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.

Protect yourself from the sun with a hat and sunblock and sunglasses.

Bring water to stay hydrated. Leave the beer for the after-paddle cookout.

Know where you are going, bring maps if you’re new to an area.

Bring a cell phone and/or VHF radio to call for help if needed.

Know your limits, don’t be afraid to go back home if the surf is up, or the river is flooded.


If you’re paddling someplace new, seek the advice of someone familiar with the waters.

Preferably, paddle with a partner, especially if you’re a novice.

Bring an extra paddle.

Bring a change of clothes in a dry bag, especially on chillier days.

Practice self rescue skills often.

Seek out lessons from certified instructors.

NWIPA and Safety

NWIPA and it’s members can be a resource for safety information, but by no means should this site be considered a complete safety authority. You have the final responsibility to learn how to keep yourself safe on the water.

© 2009 Northwest Indiana Paddling Association