Rob Casey is the owner of SUP school Salmon Bay Paddle in Seattle, co-founder for the PSUPA and is the author of two paddling guides.

Friday, October 19, 2012

5 Safety Tips for SUP Guides & Instructors

Here's 5 safety tips for guiding groups of customers on the water.

Check all gear before leaving the beach or dock.
Teach your students/clients to check each other's gear as well.  I did a corporate group trip a month ago in which a rental board's fin fell out during the class.  My co-instructor had to prone paddle it back to shore leaving me with 14 paddlers.

- Check to make sure fins are securely attached.  Bring extra fin screws/plates just in case.

- Make sure both ends of the leash are attached to the board and paddlers.  Ankle leash should be securely attached. Some students may put their ankle leash on quickly not fully attaching the velcro.

- Misc: Check paddle lengths; is everyone wearing what they need to be comfortable on the water?; Are water bottles, etc secured to the deck? Paddling at night - does everyone have a non blinking white waterproof light?

- Does everyone have a PFD - whether vest or inflatable style?  If inflatable do they know how to use it?  Is the cartridge properly installed?  Tip: Advise students to fire a cartridge off to see how it works when floating in the water.  Most have never done this.

Do a Safety Talk with your Students/Clients Before Leaving.
Discuss with your students/clients your intended route, the current weather situation, any hazards you may encounter or would want them to avoid, check gear (above).

Do a Safety Talk with your Guides Before Leaving.
Discuss your intended route, discuss hazards along the route, determine who will be in point, midway and/or sweep, confirm which channel everyone will be on for walki-talkies or VHF radios and do a radio check, determine if the group should be broken up in the case of slow or faster paddlers, and if so who will take each (or whether the group will stay together), and check to make sure your guides have safety gear such as radios, tow lines, night lights, a First Aid Kit, repair kit, and if in cold weather a 'hypo kit' (extra clothing, energy bar, flares, chemical heat packets) for students.

Bring a Tool Kit.
Extra fin screw/plates, extra leash plug string, various methods of fixing a ding: Solarez, plumber's tape,     etc, extra bungee for tie-down blow-outs.

First Aid Kit.
The size and contents should vary depending on the type of trip you'll be on.  For 1-2hr basic flat water lessons, I carry advil and aleve, bandaids, duct tape, sunblock, neosporin, and my or my students personal meds, (for me - migraine meds).  I carry the kit in a slim hard plastic waterproof box with one of those dry salt tabs.





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