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SUP Safety - all you need to know to stay safe on the water

SUP safety is an important topic to understand. To make sure everyone's out on the water enjoying themselves safely, we thought we'd share a selection of our safety information including tips on how to paddleboard, technique, safety equipment and places to go! 

It's all about the technique

Stand up paddleboarder Marie Buchanan takes us through the basics, from introducing essential kit to getting on the water for a paddle.


For those new to paddling and recreational paddlers too, the Go Paddling website has a whole host of information around inflatable stand up paddleboards. Check out:

How to use a stand up paddleboard
Stand up paddleboard safety checklist
#Dustoffyourinflatable - things to check before you go out paddling


Finding places to paddle

If you're new to paddling, try one of the Go Paddling paddle trails. They're great for beginners because they contain all the information you need to go on on your paddling trip, and they're on waterways with little to no flow meaning you don't necessarily need to be able to read the water.

If you're a bit more experienced, or looking to find places to get onto your local river, the PaddlePoints part of the website is great. When you're planning a trip, do make sure whether there are any hazards or weirs listed on the section of river you're going to be paddling. These will be visible on the PaddlePoints map if you click the icons and something you should be aware of as you paddle. 

Find pre-planned trails here.
Plan your own adventure here.

Paddle responsibly

Finally, as well as having all the safety kit mentioned above in the Go Paddling articles, make sure you are paddling within your means and you also have a British Canoeing membership, or waterways licence where you need one. 

You can find out more about our 'On the Water' membership here including information on exactly where you need a licence to paddle.

Our membership includes the most comprehensive licences for 4,500km of waterways across England, plus a whole host of other benefits. By purchasing your licence, you are paying back into the system for waterways to be cared for so they're around for future generations to enjoy. Find out more about the licence part of membership here.

Think about formal training

We all learn in different ways, which is why sometimes having a private or group lesson around stand up paddleboarding and safety aspects to consider can be very useful. Learning how to paddle, correct technique and safety considerations can be beneficial in the long run and get you learning and picking up the skills to improve faster. Take a look at the different stand up paddleboarding courses on offer, from the Discover and Explore awards, all the way through to SUP white water and beyond!

Further information

Take a look at the downloads and links below for further information from the RNLI and Port of London Authority around stand up paddleboarding on the sea and on the tidal River Thames. 

Paddling on the tidal Thames? Make sure you read the Tideway Code document to help you stay safe!

Useful Downloads