Paddling Safety 101: Always Check the Weather Forecast Before You Launch

This article was produced under a grant from the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, administered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Some planning is necessary for any outdoor adventure. There’s always boxes to check: essential gear, water and food for the journey ahead, and appropriate clothing. But often overlooked is one simple, yet critical checklist item: Check the weather forecast.

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And weather on the water, in particular, can be unpredictable and dangerous—turning with only a moment’s notice. While the morning sun might be shining on shore, by midday, the scene can change to a completely different set of circumstances, creating unplanned hazards.

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The good news? Checking the weather forecast for the day is incredibly easy. Look at your smartphone and see what Mother Nature has in store. It’ll take you 30 seconds. If inclement weather looms on the horizon, it’s best to leave the boat alone, build a toasty fire, pour a yourself a tasty drink, and simply relax. Calmer waters will be there tomorrow. Happy paddling!

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