eStore   |   Donate   |   Join
Trip Preparation & Planning

When getting ready to schedule your next trip, be sure to use the following safety guidelines to help ensure a safe and enjoyable excursion:

Pre-Trip Planning

  • Know the waters to be paddled. River and coastal guide books and topographic maps are valuable references in trip planning. Plan alternate routes
  • Set-up a shuttle. Calculate the distance and time. Consider stops and a lunch break, along with put in and take out locations
  • Equipment - What you take with you on a trip is all that you have to survive and rescue yourself. This includes water, food, maps and charts, rescue equipment and extra clothes
  • File a Float Plan with someone who will notify others if you don't return on time
  • Paddle within your, and your group's, abilities and limits

On Water Behavior and Etiquette

  • Be a competent swimmer with the ability to handle oneself underwater, on moving water, and in surf or current
  • Have a properly fitted lifejacket (Personal Flotation Device - PFD), and WEAR IT!
  • Keep the craft under control. Do not enter a rapid unless reasonably sure you can navigate it or swim the entire rapid in case you capsize
  • Keep a lookout for hazards and avoid them. Watch for fog, especially on coastal waters
  • Know your emotional and physical limitations
  • Group members need to constantly assess the behavior of others in their group
  • Respect the rights of anglers and land owners when paddling

Know the Conditions

For Flatwater

  • Remember to watch for water and weather changes - beware of fog
  • Keep an eye out for other boat traffic
  • Pay attention to all safety warnings
  • Be sure you are visible

For Whitewater and Rivers

  • Stay on the inside of bends - Beware of strainers! Strainers are fallen trees; bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else that allows the current to flow through it while holding you. Strainers are deadly
  • Walk around low-head dams
  • Watch for and avoid hydraulics (water recirculating back on itself)
  • If in doubt, get out and scout!

For Coastal Areas

  • Stay close to shore
  • As you travel away from shelter, make sure you have the necessary skills to travel back
  • Watch conditions for winds and fog
  • Understand wave height, wind speed (Beaufort Scale), fetch and how it will impact your travel
  • Stay aware of all boat traffic and traffic patterns
  • Learn re-entry techniques BEFORE you need them, know how to re-enter your boat and how to assist others back into their craft
  • Stay apprised of tidal currents and their affects on you and your boat
  • Watch for landing in surf or passing through the surf zone to shore
ACA Mission

Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling, stewardship support to help protect paddling environments, and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration, and recreation.

ACA on Facebook Connect on LinkedInACA on YouTube 



Contact Us
ACA | Canoe-Kayak-SUP-Raft-Rescue
503 Sophia St. Suite 100
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Phone: 540-907-4460
Contact Staff
Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal