SUP Safety Guide


Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is the fastest growing watersport in the World right now. If you’re looking for an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family and also keep you fit, SUP is right up there on your list of “must do” activities.

Inflatable paddle boards have made access to rivers, lakes, canals and our coastline a new playground for tens of thousands of people.

We’ve seen a big increase in the number of people joining us on the water for a beginner lesson, and then wanting to go out and enjoy paddling on their own.

Whether you are a complete beginner or a more experienced paddler, it’s always useful to know how to paddleboard and stay safe and help improve your SUP experience.

If it’s your first time out or if you’re a seasoned pro, to ensure you keep safe on the water, it is really important to carry out a few simple SUP Safety checks before you get going.

Keeping you safe

The team here at Oxford SUP Club are ways we’re working to help you get the most out of stand-up paddleboarding and keep you as safe as possible while enjoying your sport. We work closely with BSUPA (British Stand Up Paddle Association) to ensure we’re giving you and your family the best SUP safety advice.

BSUPA work in partnership with the RNLI to promote SUP safety in the UK. Here’s a link to a useful safety leaflet they produced together:

BSUPA & RNLI Safety Advice

RNLI Respect the Water logoSafety First

Before we run any SUP sessions we look at the weather, the water conditions, our equipment and the group of people joining us on the water. These elements together help us to decide if it’s safe to proceed. If we are at all in doubt about anything affecting the safety of our group on the water, we don’t go paddling. We live by a simple mantra:

‘If in doubt, don’t go out.’


Here’s a list of things you should always think about when you’re going out on your paddle board.

  • If you can, always go with a friend. It’s more fun, and they can help you if you get into difficulty.
  • If you are going out alone, always tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Don’t leave the house without a mobile phone or communication device.
  • Bringing your phone to take some photos? Make sure you keep it in a waterproof pouch. That way it won’t get wet, and you can use it to call for help in an emergency too.
  • Check the weather forecast and tide times before you set out. If the water is too choppy, you might find it difficult, especially if you are a beginner. And be aware, the conditions can change quickly.
  • Avoid offshore winds. They will quickly blow your paddleboard far out to sea, which can make it extremely tiring and difficult to paddle back to shore.
  • You should wear a suitable personal flotation device. This can be a buoyancy aid or a lifejacket. Choose one that still allows you plenty of movement so you can paddle freely. Not only will it keep you afloat, but it will also help give you time to recover should you fall in – and chances are you will!
  • Wear suitable clothing for the time of year. In the winter, you will want to use a wet or dry suit. In the summer, you might be able to get away with a swim suit. But if you are going to be in the water for a long time, you might want to upgrade to something that keeps you warm.
  • You should always use a paddleboard with a leash. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to swim after your paddleboard if you fall off. The leash will also help you stay connected to your board if you get into trouble and help you float.
  • If you are launching on a lifeguarded beach, make sure you launch and recover between the black and white chequered flags. There should be less swimmers in this area, giving you more room to manoeuvre. Consider other water users by learning the rights of way in the surf. This can save you and others getting injured.
  • Get the appropriate level of training. You might be tempted to just buy a board and head out. Having a few training sessions can teach you the right technique, so it’s more stand-up and less fall-in paddleboarding! Join us for a SUP lesson and gain confidence paddling.

Source: RNLI