Paddlers Reminded to be Safe on the Water This Summer

Rachel Torbert
Paddlers Reminded to be Safe on the Water This Summer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Safety on the water should be a priority for all boaters this summer – from motor boat operators and passengers to those boaters who prefer non-motorized watercraft. Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Conservation Police and Safety Education experts remind paddlers to stay alert to their surroundings, weather and water conditions, and other factors that can put them at risk on Illinois lakes, rivers, and streams.

“Paddling is becoming more and more popular, from canoes, to kayaks, to paddleboards, and we’re reminding all paddlers to practice safety and wear a life jacket (PFD) while enjoying time on the water,” said Jeff Hopkins, administrator of the IDNR Safety Education Section.

During 2020 in Illinois, two fatalities were reported involving paddlers in non-motorized watercraft.

Some simple safety reminders for paddlers on Illinois waterways:

• Always wear a life jacket (PFD) and never overload a canoe, kayak, or other watercraft.
• Never paddle alone; enjoy canoeing, kayaking or paddleboard riding with friends and family.
• Know the area before putting your watercraft on the water and leave a float plan with others so they’ll know how long you plan to be out and where you’re going.
• Be very conscious of weather and water conditions; dress appropriately for the weather and be alert to changing conditions once on the water.
• Limit your movements while in small watercraft to prevent capsizing/falling overboard; do not stand up in a canoe or kayak.
• Warm or hot weather days and cold water can mean a shock to the system if paddlers end up in the water, causing disorientation and impairing the ability to swim and/or safely return to their watercraft.
• High winds and strong currents can make it difficult to keep a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard within reach if the watercraft overturns and the paddler ends up in the water.
• Stay hydrated, but do not bring along or consume alcohol or drugs before getting on the water or while on the water.
• Stay alert to and pay attention to other boats, or the wake from other boats on the water; and, never approach a low-head dam, fallen tree, or other potential obstacles.

For more information on paddling safety, check online resources including the Boat U.S. Foundation website:

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