Florida has a variety of award winning paddling trails on the state’s abundant lakes, rivers, and meandering coastline.
It’s easy to get kids interested in canoeing or kayaking. Children possess a curiosity that, with a little bit of encouragement and a sturdy canoe or kayak, will make them want to get on the water and explore! They may spot an otter scooting through the water, an osprey diving for a fish, or perhaps an alligator basking in the sun. Bring along a small dip net and jar for kids to explore nature up close.
Follow these 8 tips to have a safe and fun paddling trip:
1. Wear your lifejacket – Parents should set the example by wearing a life jacket all the time; children under six years of age are required to. Make sure the fit is right.
2. Know your limitations and keep trips with children short. The average paddler will cover two miles in an hour, but this can be much slower for kids.
3. Let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
4. Cold water safety – Cold water safety is important, even in Florida! Know the water temperature before you set out and plan accordingly. Dress appropriately, bring plenty to eat and drink.
5. Heat Safety -When the weather is hot, make sure you stay well-hydrated and head for spring-fed rivers to cool off.
6. Rules of the road – Learn the rules about sharing the water with other boaters before you launch. Be aware of your surroundings and know who has the right-of-way.
7. Know the waters you’ll be paddling – If you are in unfamiliar waters, be watchful for hazards and aware of changes in weather. If you’re unsure about your ability to maneuver around a hazard, don’t chance it. Or if you’re in doubt – get out!
8. Bring binoculars, sunscreen, a hat, plenty of water and snacks and you’re ready to go on an adventure that you and your children are not soon to forget!