SUP or standup paddleboarding is quickly becoming the most popular watersport in the southeastern United States. Georgia, in particular, has an expansive coastline and an abundance of lakes and rivers. Participating in the sport of paddleboarding requires safety equipment, according to the United States Coast Guard. What is the required safety equipment for stand up paddleboarding in Georgia?

Life Jacket Requirements When Stand Up Paddleboarding in Georgia

Georgia has specific laws about paddle boarding and safety equipment. The first and most important are life vests.

Children

Paddling the board or riding as a passenger, the laws states that all children 12 years and younger are required to wear a personal flotation device at all times. 

The PFD must fit the child adequately to remain effective as a life-saving device. Improperly sized life vests can be ineffective at keeping the child afloat. 

Adults

A paddleboarder over 12 years is not required to wear a life jacket by law. Keep in mind that despite not having to wear a life vest, one must remain on the paddleboard. 

Despite the law not requiring the rider to wear a PFD, it is highly recommended to be worn. Unexpected waves, currents, slips can cause falls. A fall has led to the rider striking their head and becoming disoriented. 

What Type Of Personal Flotation Is Allowed For Stand Up Paddleboarding

When it comes to choosing the proper life jacket for paddleboarding, numerous options are available. 

Paddleboarders have the option between a type I, II, III, or V. The type V vest is inflatable. A rider is required to wear a type V inflatable that is secured around the waist. 

Whichever you select, it must be approved by the United States Coast Guard. The life vest will have a label printed verifying that the USCG approves the jacket.

Should Paddleboarders Understand Navigation Laws

Stand up paddleboarders must learn the laws of navigating by water. It is crucial to understand how to pass vessels correctly and, in particular crossing, situations to avoid a collision. 

Power vessels are much larger and continue forward momentum even when the boat is no longer in gear. The passengers of a paddleboard are at far greater risk should a collision occur. Learn the rules to avoid a potential situation.

Can You Paddleboard at Night

We recommend that you stand up paddleboard during daylight hours for a matter of safety; however, this is not required. Paddleboarders can venture out in the darkness, providing a working flashlight in operation is on the board.

When vessels are approaching in the night, be sure to signal the boater. Paddleboarders can be hard to make out on the darkest of nights. 

Additional Safety Gear Requirements: Whistle

A whistle is a required when stand up paddleboarding. The best place to store a whistle is around the neck or in an easily reachable area.

Altering fellow boaters or paddle sport enthusiasts is necessary when navigating in close proximity. You may not think so but a paddleboard can strike swimmers and cause significant injuries. Always have the whistle ready in the event you need to issue a warning. 

What Is a Stand Up Paddleboard Leash

The leash while not required by law is an important safety component to paddleboarding. To avoid losing the board, strap the leash to an area below the knee. 

Strong currents and high winds can quickly take a paddleboard in the opposite direction of the rider who has fallen in the water. As a result, a lost board will not only cost you money but may lead to a long swim back to shore. 

It’s Time To Pick Up The Gear And Head Out On The Water

Fortunately, unlike boat ownership, stand up paddleboaring is a much smaller investment. The required safety gear can cost as little as thirty dollars. However, the paddleboard and paddle can exceed $1,000 depending on the quality of the board. Remember, to buy quality. Quality purchases will last for years on end.