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Canoe Safety

Wearing a Life Jacket or PFD (Personal Floatation Device)

Yes, we wear life jackets in canoes! Everyone, adults and children should wear a PFD when paddling. Check out our Gear Guide to PFDs and learn more on the USCG site about how to select a pfd for kids and adults.

> What to Know from the US Coast Guard

Righting a Tipped Canoe

The risk of swamping your canoe can be greatly minimized by loading it carefully, using paddling techniques that enhance stability and maneuverability, and knowing when to stay off the water. But a key part of canoeing safety is being prepared for the worst–don’t wait until you and all your gear are swimming in the lake to figure out how to get out of such a messy situation.

> Righting a tipped canoe

Inclement Weather: Lightning and Thunderstorms

Weather changes often and quickly in canoe country, particularly in the North. It’s not unheard of to wake up to a sunny day and find yourself in the middle of a storm by afternoon. Knowing how to cope will help you stay safe and leave you ready to continue on with the rest of your trip once the bad weather passes. Reading Basic Essentials: Weather Forecasting, by Michael Hodgson will help you learn to read the weather, using common sense and researching safety will help you stay safe.

Inclement Weather: Wind Storms

The infamous July 4th storm that leveled parts of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in 1999 wreaked havoc not with lightning or fires, but straight-line winds. Canoe country storms are increasingly accompanied by strong winds, the precautions for which are sometimes different than those of lightning. Read Our Wounded Wilderness: The Great Boundary Waters Canoe Area Storm by Jim Cordes to get a better understanding of high wind storms and their dangers. And, for weather forecasting we suggest Basic Essential Weather Forecasting by Michael Hodgson.

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