Personal Safety Equipment for Canoeing

Personal Safety Equipment for Canoeing
Whether paddling rapids or on a slow-moving lake, every canoe should be equipped with safety gear in the event of an emergency. Treat any outing on the water with caution because of the inherent dangers associated with water. Prepare ahead of time and you should be able to handle most emergencies with the following equipment.


You should always wear a personal flotation device or lifejacket when in the canoe. Tipping a canoe can happen anytime for the novice paddler so don't assume you need to be in rough water to wear a PFD. Choose a PFD with high float for better buoyancy and select one designed for canoeing, which has wider arm holes.

Throw Bag

Select a throw bag with at least 60 feet of line. Typically used in whitewater, a throw bag is used to throw to another person who is in the water (wearing their PFD of course). Tossing a throw bag takes some practice so use the time before heading out to heave it towards a spot in the water.

First Aid Kit

Every outdoor outing should include a first aid kit and canoeing is no exception. Most pre-packed kits will include the basics necessary for minor mishaps such as cuts, bites, and sprains. Include bandages for small and large cuts and blisters; and tape for sprains and minor breaks.

Air Horn and Whistle

Sound devices are not only good safety equipment but they are required in some states if you are on a boat in the water. Use them to let large boats know you're in the water and to signal your location in case of an emergency.

Signal Mirror

Include a small mirror as part of your equipment. Often paddlers put it in a pocket of their PFD for easy access when they must signal for help or to just let a larger boat headed in their direction know that they are there.

Strobe or Light

If you plan on being out at night, you must have a strobe on board. Not only does it assist you in seeing where you are going but it lets the night fisherman see you as well.

Whitewater Extras

For whitewater paddling, also include float bags to increase the buoyancy of the canoe, a helmet, bail bucket or bilge pump, and a spare paddle.

Article Written By Laurie Roddy

A native of Houston, Laurie Roddy is a freelance outdoor writer with over 25 years writing experience. The main topics that she prefers to write about include hiking, golf, paddling, and traveling. She is a contributing writer for "Cy-Fair Magazine" and writes regularly for several websites. Roddy attended the University of Houston receiving a journalism degree. She has written "60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Houston."

Don't Miss a Thing!

All our latest outdoor content delivered to your inbox once a week.



We promise to keep your email address safe and secure.