Appalachian Mountain Club

Canoe & Kayak Safety Policy


The AMC has been at the forefront of safe paddling for decades, but no one can guarantee your safety. There are always hazards in paddling—not just in whitewater or open ocean but even on quiet streams and lakes.   By paddling with the AMC, you assume this risk for yourself and your gear, both on and off the water. If you have questions about the hazards in paddling, it is your responsibility to inform yourself by asking questions of trip leaders and/or researching other sources of information such as the American Canoe Association. You alone must decide when, where and how to paddle. On all paddling trips, you must sign the AMC’s Assumption of Risk before participating.


The NY-NoJ AMC Canoe and Kayak Committee has adopted the following policies to help promote safety on our paddling trips.


Life Vests/ Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

During all activities conducted by the Canoe & Kayak Committee of the NY-NoJ Chapter, a properly fitting and fully zippered life vest must be worn at all times while on the water, regardless of the type of boat or the difficulty of the water. The zippered life vest must be Coast Guard approved type III or V.



Those paddling closed boats (kayaks, C-1s, C-2s) are required to wear helmets on any whitewater trip of Class 1 and above. Helmets are required for all paddlers including canoeists on all rivers of Class 2 and higher.  Sea, touring and recreational kayakers are required to wear helmets on all TW4 trips (e.g. surf, rough water), on all TW3 trips in which there will be exposure to breaking waves exceeding one foot in shallow water (e.g. moderate or challenging surf launches or landings), and on all other activities in which there will be continuous exposure to rocky shorelines or bottoms or other similar hazards (e.g. pilings, sea walls, etc.). The trip leader or on-water leader may require the use of helmets in other circumstances if the conditions, in the leader’s opinion, warrant their use.


Wet Exits

Regardless of water temperature, trip leaders are advised to request closed boaters of unknown ability who use a spray skirt to demonstrate a wet exit or other self-rescue skill prior to participating on an AMC trip.