Safety is of utmost importance in any sport or endeavour. The safety code has been prepared for the guidance of canoeists throughout Australia. It is essential that canoeists make the following recommendations part of their canoeing habits.
Purchasing Kayaks & Canoes
- Seek advice from the Canoeing Down Under staff, or other canoeing experts before purchasing.
- Determine the worst conditions to which the craft may be subjected. When you have purchased a craft suitable for these conditions, do not raise your expectations of its capabilities.
- Check the craft for fixed buoyancy.
- Check for any sharp edges along the join line and around the cockpit area
- Ensure it has a footrest.
The Individual Paddlers Requirements
- Be able to swim 50 metres confidently, wearing shorts/shirt and sandshoes. This is recognised as a minimum in all canoe clubs.
- Wear a PFD (buoyancy vest or life jacket) of an approved type.
- Be honest with yourself about your ability. Paddling a canoe on quiet water does not qualify anyone to consider themselves able to undertake more difficult tasks.
- Know the type of water selected and familiarise yourself in gradually more challenging circumstances. It will demand increasing knowledge and skill, which in turn develops confidence and respect for the elements.
- Beware of cold water and weather extremes. Low water temperature can be fatal in a matter of minutes. Swimming ability and a PFD cannot counteract the effects of very cold water. See information on Hypothermia in our First Aid section.
- Be suitably dressed for the conditions which may be encountered and protect yourself against the elements. Rubber wet suits can be essential for safety. Secure your spectacles and have appropriate footwear.
- Be prepared for an emergency: acquire skill in capsize situations, rescue work and in First Aid.
- Gain a Canoe/Kayak Safety Proficiency Award. AC Instructors and Examiners are available through state associations or through Canoeing Down Under.
- Prior to accepting an invitation to undertake a trip, enquire about the group organising it and its leader. Give the leader a frank assessment of your skill and experience, and your full co-operation.
- Allways paddle rapids in a team of 3 or more.
- Understand group plans, canoe formations, the general nature of the river ahead.
- Know the location of any special gear.
- Know the emergency signals; the voice is of little use in the roar of a rapid.
- The lead boat crew reconnoitres all doubtful parts of the river, sets the course and is never passed.
- The rear boat is equipped and trained for rescue (tail end Charlie).
- Each craft has a responsibility to the craft behind. Visual contact should not be lost. Signals should be passed on and obstacles pointed out. Try to prevent repetition of errors through the group.
- The party needs to be compact. Large formations should sub-divide into independent groups with an overall plan.
- If in doubt of a particular stretch of river or rapid, get out of your boat and scout ahead
On Lakes or Oceans
- Travel within a returnable distance from shore under the worst conditions possible.
- Be familiar with the weather range. Conditions can change within minutes.
- Beware of off-shore winds.
- Have a sound knowledge of the effects of tides.
- Be familiar with formation positions to prevent craft being dangerously dispersed.
- Have the ability to Eskimo roll prior to an ocean expedition. Team rescue drill should be perfected by all canoeists, so that capsized craft can be righted and emptied to allow the crew to re-embark.
- Always paddle with a qualified leader/instructor.
- Check out the State Marine and Harbours safety and equipment regulations before paddling on the ocean. Do not paddle large lakes and oceans if you are inexperienced.
In the Event of a Capsize
- Keep calm and alert.
- Stay on the upstream side of your craft.
- If swept into a rapid, swim down feet first on your back.
- Keep your head clear of the water for good visibility.
- Be aware of your responsibility to assist your partner (in the case of pairs).
- Follow your rescuer's instructions.
- Leave the craft if this improves your safety.
- If rescue is not close at hand and the water is dangerously cold or worse rapids follow, then swim in the appropriate direction for the nearest point of personal safety. The loss of the finest craft is not worth the risk of personal safety.
If you have any concerns about you safety or that of your craft, please contact us, or better still visit the store at 144 Railway Pde, Bassendeen, to discuss.