For the past few years, the number of people involved in paddle sports in Vermilion, including kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up-paddle boarding (SUP), has been increasing. While this change is certainly positive, unfortunately law enforcement reports in Ohio have also indicated an increase in paddle sport accidents. To avoid accidents, it is important that paddlers review tips for safe paddling.

First and foremost, paddlers should always wear a life jacket. Ohio law requires life jackets to be worn while waterskiing or being towed on a similar device, while riding a personal watercraft, and for children less than 10 years of age on any vessel less than 18 feet in length. Paddlers should use the following checklist as a guide for evaluating life jackets:

  • Don't wear a life jacket that has torn or broken buckles.
  • Don't wear a life jacket that has rips, unattached webbing, or missing straps.
  • Don't keep life jackets with rotting material or parts showing excessive wear.
  • Check the inflatable lanyard to see that it hangs freely from the inflatable life jacket.
  • Make sure all inflatable life jackets have a properly armed inflatable mechanism.

It is also important to be aware of the hidden dangers that come with paddling on a river. For example, downed trees that fall into rivers (commonly referred to as “strainers”) should be avoided. River currents can quickly capsize your boat or pin your boat against hazards, leaving you trapped. Avoid flooded rivers or streams and water that is moving too fast for your skill level.

Vermilion paddlers should also avoid congested powerboat areas, and if possible, paddle in a group or at least inform others of your whereabouts.