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Operation Paddle Smart

Operation Paddle Smart’s goal is to educate paddle-sport enthusiasts how to stay safe, be responsible boaters & help emergency responders in search and rescue (SAR) type situations. Its goal is to make your boating season safer & more enjoyable as well as help recover your property if lost & could help save lives. It provides a focal point for boating & paddling organizations, retailers as well as others to work together to promote paddle sport safety plus providing valuable information to all paddlers & small boaters.

When small craft such as kayaks or canoes are found adrift, typically there is no way of determining whether or not individuals may be in distress. In such situations, having timely access to some basic information can make all the difference between wasting valuable SAR resources and saving lives.


The Paddle Smart weather-proof sticker, when properly filled out using a permanent waterproof marker & appropriately applied to small craft by vessel owners, can help: save lives, recover missing property, reduce resources expended on non-emergency SAR activities related to unnecessarily deploying limited resources to search for someone who is not in danger saving tax payer dollars, sparing rescue crews from being unnecessarily put at risk or family / friends pointless anxiety. Each Paddle Smart sticker provides a place for small craft owner’s to display their name, phone & cell phone numbers. It is important to put two valid phone numbers on sticker, since a cell phone could become non-functional if it ends up in the water. Under such circumstances, an alternate number provides a way to check if an emergency exists or to arrange for return of property to its owner. Timely access to this information is critical during the initial SAR investigation phase if the craft is found a drift.

Request Operation Paddle Smart materials & stickers from USCG
Auxiliary Flotilla 23-1 Annapolis, MD

Guidelines for Properly Filling Out & Mounting Paddle Smart Stickers:
  • Use Black Waterproof Permanent Marker
  • Identify an interior location on the hull that is easily visible
  • Clean selected area with an alcohol wipe & let thoroughly dry
  • Carefully peel backing off sticker & mount in selected location
  • Cover sticker with clear, wide packing tape