Paddle sports during COVID
Posted by Melanie H.S., UREC Outdoor Leader on Monday, April 12, 2021 at 12:00 PM PDT
Paddle sports have proven to be an incredible way to experience the outdoors during this pandemic! Because they take place in an open-air environment and make it easy to physically distance, public health organizations have endorsed kayaking, canoeing, and paddle-boarding as low-risk recreational activities that can be enjoyed during the pandemic. The vitamin D and exercise help boost your immune system to keep you healthier and happier! However, it's still important to consider Covid when you are planning your next water adventure.
Follow these 9 tips to reduce Covid-risk while enjoying your chosen water sport!
- Visit less populated areas: do your best to select water locations that won’t be overcrowded. This will make it possible to remain physically distanced while on the water. As always, make sure to tell someone your trip plan so if something happens, someone knows where you are.
- Avoid going when you know it’ll be busy: whether it’s a sunny weekend or a holiday, some days the water can feel more like a busy grocery aisle than the outdoors. Do your best to avoid circumstances that will put you into close contact with other boaters. If you regularly participate in water activities, try going at different times or days to get a sense of when will be the least busy.
- Choose trips that are appropriate for your skill-level and expertise: it’s especially important these days to avoid health issues. Choosing activities that match your experience-level helps prevent potentially dangerous accidents or search-and-rescue situations, putting more people at risk for Covid-19 exposure. Most gear rental locations have socially-distanced classes and tours. These can be a great opportunity to enhance your knowledge in a safe environment.
- Double check that your destination is open: as with the rest of civilization, many recreation areas have been closed in response to Covid-19. While lots of these have been reopened, some remain closed and others are variable. It’s best to check online ahead of time to determine whether the park, river, natural area, or boat launch is still open to the public.
- Go with your household group and keep all groups small: Carpooling is good for the environment, but for now, traveling in a small space with folks outside of your household is at high risk for contracting Covid-19. Also, unless you’re doing a guided tour, you are best off adventuring in a smaller group. This Covid-guideline applies to the water.
- Bring hand sanitizer: make sure to bring hand sanitizer to use after touching high-traffic surfaces like boat ramps, benches and gates. While it’s a good idea to always have it on you, this is especially important if you’re renting gear.
- Stay 6 feet apart and wear a mask around other people: While most states with mask mandates only require individuals to wear a mask outdoors when physical distancing of at least 6 feet isn’t possible, the best practice is to wear one whenever you are in a populated area, where you will be frequently coming into proximity with anyone outside of your group. As always, do your best.
- Follow regular water safety precautions: make sure to research safety requirements and etiquette for your chosen water sport, as well as any location-specific rules.
- Have fun: life can get extra complex and stressful. Paddle sports are a great opportunity to relieve stress and connect with nature. Enjoy!