The following details basic safety information that should be accessible in printed materials and websites. The American Canoe Association has a variety of boating safety information available for use on Blue Trail signs and in printed materials. Contact the American Canoe Association for more information.
- Avoid boating alone
- Always wear a properly fitted U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket
- Read safety information and park rules before your trip
- Leave your route and return time with a relative or friend
- Learn to control your boat and be able to stop the boat at any time and land on shore
- Learn to recognize river hazards such as fallen logs, dams, and bridge piers
- When in a group, assign a lead and sweep boat operated by experienced paddlers
- Stay in your boat if it becomes stuck and carefully shift your weight as you push off with your paddle or pole
- Never paddle farther from shore than you are prepared to swim
- Avoid drugs and alcohol as they slow reflexes and impair judgment
- In most emergencies, it is best to stay with your boat. This increases your visibility to rescue personnel
- Review the blue trail map before setting out
- Know where your trip will take you, where to get out, and emergency routes
- Make sure you identify and avoid hazards marked on the map
- Allow enough time to complete your trip within daylight hours
- Check river conditions. A flooded river can be dangerous and should be avoided. A low river may expose logs or rocks and require carrying your boat, which may make your trip slower and more difficult.
- Always wear a properly fitted U.S Coast Guard approved life jacket
- Dress for the weather, prepared to get wet, and wear fast drying cloths (no cotton)
- Bring a spare paddle or pole
- Wear shoes with tops and sides for optimal protection. Avoid sandals
- Always carry a noise-making device such as a horn or a whistle. A flashlight, strobe, flare, VHF radio, bright flag, and mirror are other key items to bring. Carry a cell phone, but be aware that it may not work in some areas.
- Other essentials: a first-aid kit, plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and bug repellent
- Check weather conditions before your trip. Do not go if the weather is beyond the ability of the least experienced person in your group.
- During your trip, stay alert to changing weather conditions
- Get off the water during electrical storms
- Canoe close to shore
- Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated