A canoe can be a great way to navigate or escape floodwaters. But there’s a huge difference between fighting your way out of a hazard-filled flood zone and paddling down a lazy river.

Sit for stability
Place yourself slightly behind the middle of the boat with your weight low and centered.

Try to stay dry
You know that floodwater is full of nasty stuff, so do your very best to stay out of it. No trailing your fingers in the water on this trip!

Avoid hidden obstacles
Avoid swirls on the water’s surface, since they may indicate a submerged object. In a big flood, you might encounter overfalls, areas where water crosses a highway or other submerged feature. Overfalls often hide whirlpools and rapids, so steer away from them if you can.

Paddle away
To steer the canoe through the current as straight as possible, stroke powerfully on alternating sides. Or use a strong J-stroke, turning and pushing the blade slightly outward at the end of the stroke to better control your speed and course.

For more survival tips, check out Outdoor Life’s Ultimate Survival Manual.