Safety Rules

Safety Rules to be followed for club activities.

Canoe Club Safety Rules for Water Activities

  1. Canoeists must be able to swim unaided a distance of 50m, in light clothing.
  2. Club members must wear a buoyancy aid in accordance with current BCU guidelines. It must also comply with BACT standard BA83, CEN 50N type minimum.
  3. Club members must wear helmets, which comply with current BCU safety standards, in accordance with current BCU guidelines.
  4. Canoeists must be proficient in capsize drills before attending river or sea trips. Water based practice / teaching may take place on flat grade 1 waters, but only by experienced canoeists.
  5. Beginners and inexperienced canoeists should attend a course of teaching sessions to bring the canoeists skills to an equivalent level to the BCU 2 star closed cockpit kayak award. These courses may be provided by the club, the DSR, or any other registered BCU course provider.
  6. There must be a minimum of three canoeists on the water for any paddling activity. At all times, at least one of these should be an experienced canoeist. The ratio of experienced canoeist to beginners should be by agreement between experienced canoeist and the committee, and depend on location and level of experience and training. (As a guideline, a level 2 coach may be limited to 8 beginners with a competent assistant on flat water, a canoeist holding a 3 star and CST may be limited to 3 beginners without an assistant. On low grade moving water a ratio of 1:3 would be sensible.)
  7. Rule 6 may be waived at the discretion of the committee, providing the following guidelines are adhered to
  8. Applies solely to the stretch of water upstream of Northam bridge (excluding private waterways).
  9. The activity is undertaken at the participants’ own risk.
  10. Any damage to non-personal kit will be charged to the canoeist.
  11. Any damage to club kit is to be reported to the committee within 24 hours. Failure to do so will, at the discretion of the committee, result in a fine in addition to the cost of repair, and may result in exclusion from the club.
  12. It is the canoeists’ responsibility to ensure the club keys are returned immediately after use.
  13. There will be no canoeing without an experienced canoeist present.
  14. Suitable emergency / rescue equipment should be carried, by suitably trained canoeists, as suitable for the water in question.
  15. River and sea expeditions must have a ratio of experienced canoeists to competent canoeists as to maintain rule 6. At least one canoeist per trip should be first aid trained and equipped.

Expedition organisers must seek and obey the advice of BCU sea and river access officers, obtaining permits where needed. Organisers should obtain information regarding local water conditions, and, where necessary, climatic and weather conditions.

When surfing, each novice should be paired with an experienced canoeist, or up to two competent canoeists with an experienced canoeist (At the discretion of the committee.).

Both the committee and river leaders reserve the right to question the experience of any club member. Both reserve the right to refuse any member for a trip, or, if deemed necessary, instruct a member to leave the water. The amount of experience required for any activity is initially the decision of the committee, who are advised to seek experience of others where necessary.

Any disabled/handicapped paddler's needs will be catered for, on discussion with the appropriate BCU officers


Experienced Canoeists:

  • A Canoeist who demonstrates good technical knowledge with at least 4 star standard personal skills.
  • Any experienced canoeist who wishes to lead groups should also have good river experience, canoe safety training (at least equivalent to BCU CST) and have good group leadership skills. At least one canoeist with first aid training is required on each trip, this may not be the leader.
  • Any experienced canoeist who wishes to teach should have excellent personal skills, good group control skills, and should have some coaching training. (e.g. level 2 coach training, or at least have experience as a coaching assistant on an organised teaching course, e.g. DSR course / Canoe club course.)

Competent Canoeists:

  • One whose personal skills are equivalent to a (pass) BCU 3 Star award. Should also have a good understanding of low-level rescue work, and some training in canoe safety.


  • Any canoeist who does not fall into the above categories is classed as a Novice / Beginner.


The club encourages members to obtain higher qualifications: BCU Inland / Sea / Surf (S.K. or S.S.) 4 and 5 star awards; BCU Canoe Safety Test; BCU Instructor Training; Recognised First Aid Qualifications; Other suitable awards. Also progressive training awards: BCU C.C.K, P.W.K, S.S. 1, 2 and 3 star awards.

We would like to remind everyone going in/on the water to cover any open cuts with a waterproof dressing/plaster, try not to drink river water, try to wash your hands with soap before eating, and make sure you wash after paddling. If you do start feeling ill and decide to visit the doctor please mention you have been in the river and mention Weil’s to the GP.

“An expert in leptospirosis has estimated that the risk of contracting a leptospirosis infection by taking part in these types of activities is as low as 1 in 10 million”

If you do want a bit more information then please see the NHS Direct website here.