Don’t forget personal flotation devices for paddle sports

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The S.C. Department of Natural Resources reminds all paddle sport enthusiasts the importance of safety and of all applicable safety regulations when participating in such recreational activities on our waterways. Paddle sports include: paddleboards, paddle boats, canoes and kayaks.

Most recently the “paddleboard” has become extremely popular and an alternative to traditional paddle sports. The operator of a paddleboard, typically standing, manually propels the craft through the use of a paddle similar to that of a canoe while navigating through a particular body of water. As such, the US Coast Guard has defined the paddleboard as a “vessel” in accordance with Title 1 United States Code, Section 3, and thus is subject to the minimum safety requirements. This includes the possession of a wearable US Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III or V Personal Flotation Device (PFD) that fits the intended user and an efficient sound producing device such as a whistle or a horn. Paddleboards used in a traditional surfing, swimming and bathing areas are exempted from these requirements.

These safety requirements are applicable to paddle boats, canoes and kayaks on all public waterways in the state of South Carolina. In addition, a flashlight or lantern must be available for use if participating in these activities between official sunset to official sunrise. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources encourages all waterway users to wear their PFD and take a free boater education course. To find more information on these classes and other boating questions, please go to www.dnr.sc.gov/boating/safety.html or call 1-800-277-4301.