Paddleboarding Protocol - Staying Safe On The Water

Paddle boarding can be physically demanding. And as a water sport, it can also be dangerous and even deadly. Responsible and experienced paddleboarders always take great care when out on the water. For your guidance and convenience this article outlines a range of safety measures you should take to ensure the safety of yourself and others when paddleboarding.


Paddle boarding is a sport for many people so it is sensible to consult your doctor to check your overall health and fitness before you commence paddle board practice and training,

If you are not a strong swimmer, start swimming regularly at your local swimming pool to build up your strength, fitness, stamina and confidence.

If you are new to the sport, enrol on a course of instruction from a licenced or certified paddle board instructor.

Enrol on a first aid course that covers water sports.

Carry essential first aid and rescue equipment whenever you venture out to paddle board.

Do not take any chances out on the water and do not exceed your paddle boarding abilities. If you have any doubts about your swimming or paddle boarding abilities, or the state of your equipment, or the weather and/or water conditions, do not go out on the water. Instead you should seek further advice, for instance from a certified instructor, life guard or board manufacturer.

Ensure everyone with you paddle boarding wears a suitable lifejacket. BEWARE: not all lifejackets are the same. iSUP UK recommends you purchase a lifejacket with minimum safety level 150 - it's for general use on coastal and offshore waters where a high standard of performance is required and will turn an unconscious person on to their back and requires no subsequent action by the wearer to keep their face out of the water. Please read the additional advice on the RNLI website:

Wear a helmet where necessary.

Carefully inspect your paddle board and all your equipment before going out on the water. Check for signs of wear and tear or potential failure. Do not use any equipment if you think there is even a small chance the equipment might be faulty or fail when using.

Pay particular attention to the state of your fin/s. Worn or damages fins can easily cause injury to you or to others in the water. Consider purchasing soft fins to prevent this potential hazard.

Always use a leash attaching your leg to the board. But be aware that it is for convenience only and not a life-safety device.

It is of utmost importance that you never go out further from shore than you are prepared and able to swim back from.

Unless you are a highly experienced paddle boarder with detailed, first-hand knowledge of the location you intend to paddle board, we do not recommend you go out paddle boarding in conditions that are anything less than perfect.

It is of utmost importance that you familiarised yourself with the location, conditions and the stretch of water you intend to visit before setting out.

You must also pay careful attention to the weather and water conditions whilst you are out on the water and have a good understanding and awareness of:

 - local wind and weather conditions

 - wave types

 - local current

 - local tides

 - water levels and depths

 - shipping lanes

 - other vessels in your vicinity

 - swimmers and bathers.

There are likely to be a host of other separate localised elements that will also impact on your paddle boarding and as a responsible paddle boarder it is your duty to familiarise yourself with these to ensure a safe experience for you and for those around you.

Be aware how quickly any of the local conditions can and do change and carefully monitor them at all times whilst you are out on the water. Pay particular attention to wind direction, changes in tides and currents, especially if any might push you away from the shore or into danger.

Never go out on the water alone. And aways leave a detailed itinerary with a responsible adult on land. This should include:

 - names of paddleboarders

 - mobile phone numbers of paddle boarders

 - starting location

 - route/schedule

 - finishing location

 - timeframe

Ensure the responsible adult knows you will stick to the plan and keep them regularly updated if any changes are made.

It is advised you keep hold of your paddle at all times as it is an essential piece of paddle boarding kit that helps you stay safe on the water. If you do drop it in the water, in the vast majority of instances and if it is safe to do so, you should try to recover it immediately. We suggest you purchase a paddle leash for extra security.

In choppy conditions, do not paddle on crowded spots and respect others out on the water.

Do not run your paddleboard up onto the shore.

Do not stand or sit on your paddleboard while it is on land, especially if the fin/s is/are attached.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on how to use your board safely and responsibly.

Do not use alcohol or mind altering drugs when paddle boarding.

Respect nature, respect the elements and respect others out on or in the water.


- Wear a buoyancy aid

A buoyancy aid, a type of Personal Floatation Device (PFD), will provide extra floatation in the water to help keep you afloat, but it will also help give you time to recover should you fall in – and chances are you will! Buoyancy aids come in different sizes and it is important that you have the correct size as this will help when getting back on to the board; a common problem when learning. Make sure you check the weight range and chest size when buying a buoyancy aid as well as choosing one that is comfortable and allows plenty of movement so you can paddle freely.

- Carry a phone in waterproof pouch

As well as being able to take photos of your paddle you can also use your mobile phone in an emergency to raise the alarm. Make sure you carry this on you (e.g. in a buoyancy aid pocket or around your neck) so that you can get it easily if are in trouble – it is no good in a dry bag attached to your board!

In a coastal emergency call 999 and ask for the coastguard and if you are inland ask for the Fire & Rescue service.

- Wear the correct leash

There’s nothing more frustrating than having to swim after your board if you fall off. The leash will also help you stay connected to your board if you get into trouble and help you float.

Choosing the correct leash is really important – most boards come with an ankle leash however these may not be suitable for the environment you are planning to paddle in. If you are paddling in tidal or flowing waters such as rivers where there is a risk of entrapment or being caught on an object then wear a quick release waist leash.

- Avoid offshore winds

Offshore winds are winds that are blowing from the beach or shore out to sea. Often with offshore winds the water looks idyllic and calm however this can be deceptive as offshore winds will quickly blow you and your paddleboard far out to sea, which can make it extremely tiring and difficult to paddle back to shore. If you are on a lifeguarded beach, keep an eye out for the orange windsock to see which way the wind is blowing.


Do not expose your iSUP board to excessive heat or sunlight, especially when not in use. So whenever you are not using your board ensure it is protected from direct sunlight and uv rays. Keep it in the shade.

Excessive exposure to the sun, uv rays and heat can result in colours fading or a distorted or damaged deck pad and/or board. These undesirable consequences are preventable and as such, they are not covered under Warranty.

Do not exceed the maximum recommended psI inflation pressure.

Deflate the board by at least 5-10 PSI when not in use if you are unable to find suitable shade for the board. Better still, if there is no shade, we strongly suggest you deflate the board and pack it away rather than expose it to the elements.

Check the pressure immediately before you use the board.

Check the tightness of the valve regularly, using the tool supplied with the board, and re-tighten when necessary.

Salt from sea water can quickly damage your board so rinse the board regularly with tap water and a mild non-bio soap after each use, especially when packing it away in storage or for the winter. Pay careful attention to the valve and ensure it is clean and dry.

Do try not to roll your board up too tightly when packing it away.

Avoid rolling your board too tightly when putting it away in its bag after use.

During winter try to keep your board ever so slightly inflated, stored flat, out of direct sunlight and in temperatures not lower than 0°C.

Don’t carry the board on top of your car when inflated.


The leash is strictly intended for convenience purposes only - it is not a life-safety device and nor will it compensate for any deficiencies you might have when out on the water. So there is no confusion, some examples of deficiencies might be a weak, unconfident swimming ability; inadequate ocean knowledge; insufficient safety precautions; lack of common sense; over confidence or plain old stupidity.

Do not grab or wrap the leash around your hand to recover the surfboard as the force of a wave may cause serious physical damage.

Beware that a SUP leash can get caught or stuck by objects under the water, especially when paddling close to rocks. To minimise the risk of drowning, before going into the water practise removing the Velcro ankle bracelet as fast as possible until you become proficient in removing it quickly.

SUP leashes must not be used in rivers with current or white water rapids. Instead, opt for a PFD quick release system and seek appropriate training.


iSUP UK assumes no liability for any damage or injury to you or others caused by use, misuse or inability to use any products purchased from us, or the failure of any products purchased from us. In particular, you must understand and pay careful attention to the warnings, advice and guidance we have laid out for you. Upon purchasing and/or using a product from our website, you agree to follow the safety protocols we hereby provide you with and accept that it is your responsibility to ensure that you and all those you are paddleboarding with understand the risks involved with the sport / past-time and paddle board safely and responsibly in order to avoid or prevent injury, danger or death to yourself or to others.