With some outdoor sports now permitted within the current situation, it provides a great time to get outside and spend some quality time outside with the people we love - whilst also staying safe. A fun and new exciting activity to try is paddle boarding with kids. Here are some top tips on how to get you started.
Whilst always observing top tips on paddle boarding safety, it is especially important to follow these when paddle boarding with kids for the safety of everyone.
1) Get Your Child Comfortable On The Paddle Board
Before taking a child anywhere near the water on the paddle board, you should allow them to feel comfortable on dry and solid ground. Ensure that they know how to stand correctly on the paddle board, or if they are slightly younger - allow them time to feel comfortable sitting on the paddle board with you. Important paddle board safety tips you should always practice are:
- Make sure that children are never left alone in or on the water
- Do not let them paddle out of reach if they are on their own board
- Check the weather forecast before you leave. If the weather does not look consistently nice throughout the day, you should reconsider going
- Let someone know where you are going and what time to expect you back. If you both get into trouble it makes it easier to raise the alarm
2) Ensure Your Child Wears A Buoyancy Aid
No matter how much of a strong swimmer you feel your child is, they should be wearing a buoyancy aid at all times. Perhaps even more crucially, it is important to check that both yours and your child’s buoyancy aid is not ill-fitting and it fits properly before proceeding. Watch this YouTube video if you'd like to take a closer look at how you can do this.
3) Begin In Calm Waters
Select a calm body of water and definitely avoid rivers and surf breaks for starters. Calm water makes it easier for little ones to gain confidence and feel stable. Start them off sat on the front of the board or in between your feet. Be prepared that they will probably move around so make sure you have a stable board and are ready for any unexpected movement.
Plan your route carefully before you set off. On rivers, the current can help or hinder you more than you think, so we always make sure we go upstream on the way out and downstream on the way back home, which means we are not fighting the current when we're tired. If on a canal, think about the wind rather than the current - so paddle into the wind on the way out (when you're fresh) and downwind on the way back.
4) Teach Safe Ways To Fall
It is important to remember that at some point you probably will both end up swimming, either by accident or on purpose but make sure they are familiar with how to do this safely. Usually, we don’t have much choice of how we fall, but teaching your kids to fall to the side of their board will protect them from injury. You want them to avoid bracing their fall on their hands because they could sprain their wrist if it catches on a rail. Teaching them to get back up on their board is straightforward, but will take practice. Unfortunately, injuries can and do happen, so make sure you bring your first aid kit along just in case.
5) Relax & Have Fun
Throughout this process, it is important to relax and have fun. Get them to help spot landmarks, dunk their feet and hands in the water, or look out for fish as a way of entertaining them on the board. Even get them their own paddle so they can assist and potentially do all the hard work while you sit back and relax (we won't judge).