Paddleboarding an easy mix of fun and safety

Rondo Buecheler of Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade enjoys a quiet paddle around one of the local ponds. Buecheler emphasizes the importance of wearing a life jacket, and his shop provides properly fitted life jackets with each paddleboard rented.

Just when you think stand-up paddleboarding is only about fun, there’s this to consider: Of the nine boating-related deaths suffered in Colorado last year, one was a paddleboarder.

And none of them, including the paddleboarder, were wearing a life jacket.

In light of this, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds paddleboarders they are using hand-powered vessels and are subject to the same boating rules and regulations as all hand- and motorized vessels.

With the increasing popularity of stand-up paddleboards on local rivers and state park reservoirs, safety becomes foremost for park managers.

“All nine victims died from drowning, and none of them were wearing a life jacket,” said Kris Wahlers, boating safety coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “No one plans on having an accident when they’re enjoying a day on the water, but they still happen every day.”

Parks and Wildlife officials say anyone operating canoes and kayaks, a surfboard, inner tube, paddleboard or any similar watercraft is required to wear a personal flotation device per the agency’s boating regulations.

Wahlers said anyone enjoying the water should be prepared, and wearing a life jacket that fits properly is critical.

Many outdoors shops that rent paddleboards also have life jackets for rent.

Among the various criteria Wahlers advises everyone to remember:

■ A U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device must be available for each individual onboard.

■ All children under 13 years of age are required to wear a properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device at all times while on the paddleboard or other watercraft that requires their use.

■ A sound-producing device such as a whistle is required on a paddleboard.

■ Contact information including a name and phone number and/or address must be written on the paddleboard.

■ Paddleboards are not permitted in designated swim areas in state parks.

■ Operating any type of watercraft while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is strictly prohibited.


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