A couple weekends ago the Lakewood Fire Department had to rescue a paddleboarder in distress off the shores of Lake Erie. Thankfully, this rescue had a happy ending. I’m a huge advocate of water safety. As owner of Nalu Standup Paddle & Surf, part of my job is to stress the importance of being respectful of the water, especially Lake Erie, which can grow treacherous in the blink of an eye. Springtime paddling is one of the most dangerous paddling seasons. People are escaping from winter cabin fever and are eager to hit the water when the air turns balmy, but the water is still dangerously cold. Here are some tips to keep you safe. After all, we want to see you on the water this summer.
1.) Paddle with a partner – there’s safety in numbers.
2.) Always wear your PFD and Leash – both serve different safety needs.
3.) Wear appropriate clothing for the water temperature – falling in cold water can shock you and increases your chances of drowning.
4.) Stay close to shore – there aren’t many boats out yet to help you.
5.) Have a plan – tell someone on shore when you leave, who you’re with, where you'll leave from, and when you plan to be back. Call them when you get back.
6.) Know the weather forecast, direction of the wind, the strength of the current if paddling on a river, and the time of sunset – the wind and current can make a paddle pretty tough and it’s no fun paddling when you can’t see.
7.) If you are planning a paddle on the Cuyahoga (or other river/waterway) that has freighter/barge traffic, know where those boats are and stay away. They can’t stop and you will lose that battle. There are a lot of great apps available that track the big boats. Get one.
8.) Never paddle in conditions beyond your ability - try new things when the conditions are nice.
9.) When in doubt Don’t Go Out.
10.) Know basic first aid and CPR.
11.) Practice safety first and HAVE FUN on the water!
Bill Cochrane is the owner of Nalu Standup Paddle & Surf in Rocky River and a lifelong resident of Lakewood who graduated from Lakewood High School in 1978.
I am the owner of Nalu Standup Paddle & Surf and am a lifelong resident of Lakewood having graduated from Lakewood High School in 1978