[8/1/17] Yes, You Do Need A Life Jacket With You On A Stand Up Paddle Board

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Chelan County Sheriff’s Sergeant Rod Huddleston says it’s probably the number-one violation they see on the lake this summer:

073117 Paddleboard Safety 1 :05 Q:”their life jacket”

. . . and with about eight weeks of summer left, the Washington State Parks Boating Program wants to remind paddleboard enthusiasts about the laws and risks before they head out on the water.

Huddleston says it may seem rather silly to those people who’ve spent all their summers floating on the lake without a life jacket, but a paddleboard is different:

073117 Paddleboard Safety 2 :10 Q:”jacket on board”

The operative words are “on board,” meaning it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the person to be legal – just on the paddleboard itself. However, if you fall off and need a life jacket, it would be tricky to get to it once you fall into the water, so it’s important that you actually wear a PFD.

The Boating Program also encourages paddlers to have a form of communication with you that will work when wet, such as a whistle, a waterproof cell phone or marine radio; and also a personal locator beacon.

And although most paddleboards are easy to use without a lot of training, beginners should take a training course before heading out.

A 2015 report from The Outdoor Foundation, paddlesports use increased 14 percent between 2010 and 2014. But last year’s data shows 88 percent of all boating fatalities happened in boats less than 18 feet long.