Tips For Safe Family Canoe Trips

Canoeing is an affordable and exciting vacation opportunity for families. The combination of traversing waterways and stealing away from daily life can be purely exhilarating. However, canoe trips necessitate early planning and accurate gear. The following information is helpful for planning a safe canoe trip that is also enjoyable.

Safety First

According to the United States Coast Guard, more than 250,000 rivers are present throughout the United States. This provides a vast number of options for families who desire a novel vacation idea. Whether choosing to stay near home or wishing to travel to another part of the country, canoeing is an ideal way to embark on an adventure.

A critical first step in choosing which river is ideal for your family’s trip is to plan. Determine the surroundings in which you are most comfortable and then research those rivers that meet such criteria. Once a river has been decided upon, regard the area in which you will be and familiarize yourself with it. For example, if you opt for a river that is far from town and mingled with dense forest, plan for such an environment.

Necessary Equipment

After the planning comes the packing. Canoe trips require more than a sack lunch and map of the river to be navigated. The list that follows encompasses a number of items required to safeguard your family during their excursion.

  • Water-proof first aid kit that can be purchased already-assembled from a variety of retailers. Included within this kit should be, at a minimum, bandages, burn ointment, anti-bacterial cream, medication for insect bites and pain relievers.
  • Water bottle for each member of the canoe party and subsequent jugs of fresh water.
  • Warm nylon jacket for each person.
  • Duct tape that can be used for repairs of the canoe or related equipment.
  • Dry plastic bags for storing additional clothing and gear.
  • Knife and heavy-duty rope.
  • Extra paddle.
  • Map and compass.

In addition to these items, each person also needs to have a personal flotation device (PFD) to wear during the actual trip. It is not sufficient to have the PFD in the canoe, but rather it needs to be worn. Many rivers are deceiving in appearance: they look shallow but in fact have rapid currents. Properly fitting PFDs are also important so as to remain secure against the body and promote easy movement.

Canoe Attire

The correct gear is just one element of safe canoeing. Clothing is another important consideration. Although persons are usually tempted to wear them, jeans are actually a canoeing hazard in and of themselves. Persons cannot swim sufficiently in jeans, and they may chafe the skin if they become wet. Instead, long nylon pants are more comfortable and can withstand various elements. Lightweight, long-sleeved shirts with a chamois blend are also optimal.

Shoes are absolutely essential for each person. Sandals do not provide adequate protection when one must walk through water and/or mud. Wetsuit boots are the best choice because they are waterproof; such footwear also safeguards against sharp objects, tree branches and rocks.

Canoeing Hazards

Caution should be exercised at all times while enjoying a canoe trip. This is for one primary reason: water hazards can occur at any time. For example, tree stumps are prolific in many lakes and rivers. These can disrupt the movement of a canoe and even tip it. Be weary of these and maneuver around them with slow and smooth paddle strokes.

Hazards exist outside of the canoe as well. Water lilies and razor-grass both pose serious threats to swimmers. Long grass along riverbanks creates the perfect grounds for snakes to hide. Finally, weather conditions should also be heeded: lightning can quickly turn an aluminum paddle into a lightning rod. Similarly, too much sun exposure can also be harmful. Canoes should be stocked with sunscreen, hats and sunglasses to minimize the risk of sunburns. A cord is helpful for securing sunglasses to the body.

Canoeing provides an uninhibited view of the outdoors as well as a sense of unity with nature. These are qualities quite unlike those of more mainstream vacations. Keep your family safe during your next canoe trip with the tips provided here. This will ensure future vacations in which the outdoors is aptly enjoyed.