Safety Information Sheet

Safety Information Sheet


As a club we have the duty to inform our paddlers of environmental hazards on the water. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate in asking a club official.

Leptospirosis -Weil’s Disease

Leptospirosis is very rare – less than 10 cases a year associated with all recreational water activities – but it can become serious if it is not treated.
It’s an infection caused by bacteria carried in rats’ urine and it can contaminate water and wet river banks.
If you get ill between 2 and 19 days after canoeing, with a temperature, flu-like symptoms, and joint and muscle pains, go to your doctor straight away and say that you have been canoeing.

The BCU offers paddlers the following advice to reduce the risk of infection.

•    Cover all cuts and abrasions with waterproof plasters.
•    Always wear foot wear to avoid cutting the feet.
•    Avoid capsize drill or rolling in suspect waters.
•    Where possible, shower after canoeing.
•    If in doubt, contact your doctor early.


Hypothermia – this is when a person’s core temperature drops. You can lower the risks by before paddling eating well, being of a suitable fitness and wearing correct equipment no matter what the weather.

Symptoms of serious and deep hypothermia are unusual behaviour, slurring of speech, violent outbursts of energy, lack of muscle coordination as well as blue lips and numb extremities.

•    To treat hypothermia give the casualty plenty to eat and sheltered rest.
•    Try to warm them up slowly, never give them hot drinks, rub them or give them alcohol.


Hyperthermia – this is the body overheating, which can lead to heat stroke.

Prevent it by keeping cool, but don’t take off necessary kit as you can chill rapidly.

Symptoms of hyperthermia are feeling unwell, weakness, and head aches. Treat hyperthermia by cooling down usually with shaded rest.

Linked with hyperthermia;
•    Watch out for dehydration, to prevent and treat drink plenty of fluids – not alcohol,
•    Sunburn, water reflects UV light on to you when you are paddling.

Aural Osteomata or Surfer’s Ear

Aural Osteomata – Occurs when frequent submersions in cold water cause a bony growth to
appear in the paddler’s inner ear.
This can cause ear infections and rarely deafness. You can wear ear-plugs,
skull caps (neoprene type) and/or tape up ear holes on helmets to help to prevent it.

If paddlers are under the age of 18, please ensure a parent or guardianIs present at all sessions.