Paddling Safety 101: Always Paddle Sober

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

Countless outdoor activities involve some degree of risk—meaning they are best tackled with a clear head. Being impaired by (or under the influence of) alcohol or drugs simply complicates any situation when it suddenly turns sideways. And when you launch a paddling excursion, the unpredictable nature of any body of water needs to be at the forefront of that clear mind.

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Recreational drugs and alcohol impact your judgement and reaction time—which should go without saying. But it’s worth a reminder to stay aware of any (and all) potential problems, and to save the celebratory drinks for post-paddle. After all, when it’s time to relax on the river bank or campsite, a customary toast is one of the finest ways to end the day. Leave the alcohol on shore, enjoy your time in the boat, and get yourself back to land safely. Cheers to safe paddling!

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