Paddling and Boating Safety
Here are some summer paddling and boating safety tips for the Susquehanna River Trail.
- Keep weight centered and as low as possible at all times, especially when entering and exiting the boat.
- Paddle on opposite sides of your canoe.
- Keep all ropes coiled when not in use. Never tie a rope to yourself or another person, especially a child.
- Do not exceed the capacity of your boat.
- Boating safety increases with numbers. Boat with others.
- Obstacles encountered along the river will include rocks, rock ledges, trees, sandbars, and dams. Surface obstacles will form what will look like a “V” pointing upstream (at you). Avoid these and look instead for “V”s pointing downstream to take advantage of the deeper water flowing between these obstacles. Keep away from the dangerous dam just south of City Island and submerged trees (“strainers”). Know the hazards of your route.
- In canoes, kneel down when running rough water and during windy conditions.
- If your boat flips over, remain calm. Hold onto your paddles and the boat if possible, keeping the boat below you. Never position yourself downstream of a boat during a flip! Lie on your back with your feet up in front of you until you reach a shallow, calm spot or shoreline, then empty the boat and reenter. Never try to stand up in fast moving water.
- Make sure you are prepared for inclement weather and have the gear that you need. Be alert to sudden weather changes. Windy and rainy weather, even in summer, can lead to hypothermia if improperly dressed.
- Cold water is dangerous and can kill unprepared boaters. Always wear your life jacket but expecially when the water is cool. Sudden immersion in cold water contributes to most boating deaths in PA. Dress appropriately – wear a hat, dress in layers of wool, pile, or polypropylene. Avoid cotton.
- When it is hot make sure you wear light clothing, sunglasses and a hat, apply sun block and drink fluids.
- Be aware of other boaters. Keep a sharp lookout to avoid collisions.
- Be careful of sharp objects in the river. Floods carry an assortment of items downstream that can cut your feet. If you wade, wear protective footwear.
More information can be found at the Susquehanna River Trail website.