Paddling Safety Task Force
Top 10 Safety List
- Take an on water course for safety & paddling.
- Wear your properly fitted lifejacket at all times on the water.
- Understand cold water safety.
- Check high water conditions prior to launching.
- Check weather conditions and plan accordingly.
- Bring water and snacks for long days on the water.
- Have a first aid kit and cell phone in a dry bag.
- Leave your itinerary with someone and estimated time off the water.
- Have a safety check list.
- Know your limits.
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Beware The Fishhook!
By Don Mueggenborg
It was an early spring day – sun shining, water up a little.
Time to get the rust off, get out on the river. In this case, it was the lower DesPlaines.
We launched at our favorite spot in Lemont and headed upstream. Peanut Butter Andersen in the stern.
When we paddled together, we took turns paddling bow or stern. That way we were more aware of what the other paddler has to do. And the stern paddler doesn’t have to be reminded to call the “hut” because next time he will be in the bow.
About twenty minutes into the trip, we decided to go up Hennebry Creek. A narrow creek that winds from the RR tracks to the river – actually – in the right conditions, we might paddle into the Waterfall Glenn Forest Preserve (never have found the right conditions though).
Saw some beaver signs, birds, and a deer. Great to be out!
Time to head back home.
As we approached the river, we swung under a branch. Fortunately, we were not going very fast.
I felt it – like a sting on the ear. “Dave, I think I know what a fish feels like when he is caught. I think I have a fishhook in my ear.”
Who knows how long that line and hook were dangling from the branch. I guess I was lucky it had been a long time. The line broke without tearing my ear and without pulling me into the water.
Now, we picked up racing speed – to the truck and to the doctor’s office.
“Nurse,” the doctor whispered, “get the pliers out of the janitor’s closet.”
A couple stitches, a tetanus shot. I was free to go.
I was lucky. It could have been an eye. Beware, especially in the spring. Fishermen don’t really want to snag trees and catch paddlers – but it can happen.