Sunguarding – Canoeing

Sun protection guidelines for those participating, spectating, or working in sport or outdoor recreation. The following specific tips and advice have developed with help from the British Canoe Union:


  1. Apply a broad-spectrum product with an SPF30 or higher, paying special attention to your ears, nose and other areas which are especially prone to burning.
  2. Once applied to the skin, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours, or more often if you are prone to excessive sweating.
  3. The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm so, if possible, look to paddle outside of these hours, particularly on clear, sunny days.
  4. Sometimes expeditions can last longer than expected, so get into the habit of applying sunscreen before you get on the water, and keep a small bottle in your on-board kit.
  5. Using a sunscreen applicator, or a small towel and alcohol gel, is a good way to avoid a greasy grip.
  6. Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from all angles.
  7. Your forehead, scalp and ears are vulnerable areas, so a hat or cap is a necessity. We suggest a wide brim hat with adjustable drawstrings to make sure it stays on down river.
  8. Wear clothing that protects arms and legs – tightly weaved clothing and long sleeve tops, where appropriate, are best.
  9. Watch for signs of dehydration: dry mouth, thirst, headache, dizziness. To avoid, stay hydrated by keeping a bottle of water handy.
  10. Don’t forget to carry a SPF30+ lip balm to ensure your lips are adequately protected and hydrated.
  11. When possible, try to stick to routes that provide plenty of shade, especially on hot, sunny days.
  12. Select sunscreen without chemicals that harm marine life.

Protecting your kit:

Understanding that the precautionary principle is usually adopted regarding safety equipment, we understand that there is a general assumption that a chemical contaminant, i.e., sunscreen, will cause an issue to personal protective equipment (PPE) unless proven otherwise.

For this reason, please see below for guidance on how to minimise exposure of the PPE to potential chemical contaminants:

  • Keep sunscreen containers separate in case of leakage, for example sealing it inside a Ziplock bag when not in use.
  • Store personal flotation devices (buoyancy aids), in a cool, dry place and out of direct sunlight to prolong their life.
  • Take out of service and quarantine equipment which becomes accidentally contaminated.
  • Explain the risks regarding potential contamination and supervise under 18-year-olds to ensure no undue contamination.

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