Last year, there were around 500 recorded stand up paddle injuries in Switzerland according to the insurer SUVA, one of Switzerland’s largest accident insurers.
Since 2015, the number of injuries has more than doubled. Most accidents result in leg and foot injuries (47%), followed by injuries to hands and fingers (25%), the waist and behind (14%) and the face and teeth (6%). Most injuries occur when paddlers fall.
Safety advice includes ensuring the safety cord is attached. This ensures the board stays with the paddler after a fall. When paddling in rivers the cord should be attached around the waist with a safety release button instead of around the ankle. In lakes these cords are compulsory when paddling more than 300 metres from the shore – those breaking this rule risk a CHF 50 fine. In addition, paddlers should have a life preserver, preferably worn, or risk a CHF 50 fine, starting from next year.
When the water is cold it is important to wear a wetsuit to avoid thermal shock. According to experts, falling into cold water can cause cramp, hyperventilation and sometimes cardiac arrest.
Another useful tip is to paddle on your knees in high winds if you caught in a storm.
Zurich’s police recommend stand up paddlers write their name, address and telephone number on their boards. This helps them quickly check whether to launch a search when a board is discovered without a paddler. Searching is costly so unnecessary searches are a waste of public money.