Paddleboard Safety

Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges paddleboarders to be safe on, and off, the water.
Family Paddle-boarding
Paddleboarders are urged to be careful on the water — wear a PFD and be wary of the ice cold water.

Those eager to get out on the paddleboard must follow the state’s Safer at Home orders, and only travel within 10 miles from your homes. Paddleboarders must also be aware of county restrictions, and follow their local public health orders when planning a trip.

Paddleboarders living close to recreational waters must be especially careful when heading out. The spring run-off has started and the water filling reservoirs is very cold. If you fall into water that’s barely 50 degrees, hypothermia can set in quickly and be life-threatening. Paddleboarders are urged to wear a personal floatation device (PFD), no matter if they’re on a river, pond or reservoir. 

Colorado boating regulations require that adults carry a PFD on the paddleboard, but it’s much safer to wear it, said Kirsten Copeland, manager of Ridgway State Park. During the last few years, rangers and private boaters have rescued several people who have fallen off paddleboards. At Ridgway two weeks ago, a boater reported that he rescued a woman who had fallen off her paddleboard. She was not wearing a PFD and told the boater that she was barely able to hang on to her board before being rescued. 

“So many people see paddleboards as low risk, but if you fall off your board into cold water you can get into trouble very quickly,” Copeland said. “The water is really cold now, but at most other Colorado reservoirs the water stays cold enough throughout the summer season to be dangerous.”

CPW urges all boaters, no matter what type of craft they’re in, to wear PFDs when on the water. Regulations require that the number of PFDs on a boat match the number of people on board. Children 12 years old and younger must always wear a PFD when on the water. The rules apply to all types of boats and watercraft.

Off the water, CPW reminds all recreationists that they are required to follow the rules of Governor Jared Polis’s “safer-at-home” order while recreating. Maintain a distance of six feet from other people, and wear a mask when in a public location.

A Life Jacket Fit for Your Lifestyle

Wear It!

Boating safety advocates recommend that all boaters and passengers not only have a life jacket, but wear it at all times. Life jackets have come a long way from the stiff foam blocks wrapped in orange that many of us remember. Today, there are a wide variety of specialized life jackets that offer a great match for any water-related recreation. The following video will walk you through five different types of life jackets and highlight the pros and cons of each to simplify your next life jacket purchase.


Written by Joe Lewandowski. Lewandowski is a public information officer for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife southwest region.

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