- Avoid boating alone.
- Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Read safety information and national park rules before your trip.
- Leave your route and return time with a relative or friend.
- Learn to control your boat and be able to stop the boat at any time and land on shore.
- Learn to recognize river hazards such as strainers, dams, and bridge piers.
- Avoid the low-head dam below the railroad trestle by using the lock on river right. When in a group assign a lead and sweep boat manned by experienced paddlers.
- Stay in your boat if it becomes stuck and carefully shift your weight as you push off with your paddle or pole.
- Never paddle farther from shore than you are prepared to swim.
- In an emergency, stay with your boat.
- Review the Congaree River Blue Trail map. (link to map)
- Know where your trip will take you, where to get out, and emergency routes.
- Make sure you identify and avoid hazards marked on the map.
- Allow enough time to complete your trip within daylight hours.
- Check river conditions. A flooded river can be dangerous and should be avoided. A low river may expose logs or rocks and require carrying your boat, which may make your trip slower and more difficult.
- Congaree River flows are affected by hyrdoelectric power generation at upstream dams on the Saluda and Broad rivers. Water levels can change significantly due to operations of these dams even if there has not been any precipitation. Check flow levels on the USGS website and look for "Congaree River at Columbia" or "Congaree River at Congaree NP near Gadsden" stations.
- Always wear a properly fitted U.S Coast Guard approved life jacket.
- Dress for the weather and be prepared to get wet.
- Bring a spare paddle or pole.
- Wear shoes with tops and sides for optimal protection. Avoid sandals.
- South Carolina state law requires that each boat carry a noise making device. A flashlight, strobe, flares, horn/whistle, cell phone, VHF radio, bright flag, or mirror are other key items to bring.
- Other essentials: a first-aid kit, plenty of drinking water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and bug repellent.
- Check weather conditions before your trip. Do not go if the weather is beyond the ability of the least experienced person in your group.
- During your trip, stay alert to changing weather conditions.
- Get off the water during electrical storms.
- Canoe close to shore.
- Drink plenty of liquids to stay hydrated.