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Paddling down a river or across a lake or bay can be an enjoyable and safe activity. But, according to statistics, paddlers in small crafts such as canoes, kayaks, and rafts are more than twice as likely to drown as individuals operating other types of vessels.

This higher rate of fatalities can be attributed to two factors. First, paddlers don't consider themselves "boaters" and fail to follow the same safe practices as other small vessel operators. Second, many paddlers don't have the skills or knowledge they need to operate their small, unstable craft safely. They may be unaware of hazards unique to paddlesports, such as fast currents and low-head dams, or don't follow proper safety procedures when encountering them.