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BSA Safety Afloat Policy

The BSA Safety Afloat is found in your Kayak Merit Badge Booklet on pages 9-13. You should read through them. (I know, it's the most boring part of the whole booklet, but there's important stuff in there that will keep you safe on the water.)

The complete text is in the book. Here's a summary:

  1. Qualified Supervision: All activity afloat must be supervised by and adult who is 21 years old or older. This adult must be mature and conscientious. He should be trained and committed to follow the nine points of BSA's Safety Afloat Policy. The adult showed be skilled in safe kayaking, and should be prepared for accident prevention and prepared for emergency situations.
  2. Personal Health Review: A complete health history is required by all participants, to show you are fit enough to participate, signed by a parent or guardian. Supervision should be adjusted to take into account individual health conditions.
  3. Swimming Ability: Both youth and adults participating must pass the BSA Swim Test. This is an annual test.
  4. Life Jackets: Properly fitted, U.S. Coastguard-approved life jackets must be worn while kayaking.
  5. Buddy System: All participants are paired off in the buddy system. Buddies should be near each other, be aware of each other's situation, and be ready to sound an alarm or render assistance if needed.
  6. Skill Proficiency: Each participant should be skilled enough in paddling to paddle their kayak back to shore. Each participant needs to be trained in safety. On white water trips above Class II, each craft needs to have a professional guide or each participant needs to be certified for that type of boat and class of water.
  7. Planning: Planning includes a scheduled itinerary, communication arrangements, and preparation for bad weather, equipment failure, or emergency situations.
    1. Preparation: This includes securing proper gear, getting permission to cross private property, and making transportation and food decisions.
    2. Float Plan: A detailed itinerary, including put-in and take-out locations, and approximate times the group will be at each location.
    3. Notification: File the float plan with parents and unit committee. File the plan with the local counsel when paddling on running water.
    4. Weather: Check the weather forecast before leaving.
    5. Contingencies: Plan for possible emergencies and other things that could change your plans.
  8. Equipment: All craft should be in good repair and float if capsized. You should bring appropriate emergency equipment. Paddles and life jackets should be the appropriate fit for each user.
  9. Discipline: Rules need to be understood and followed.


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