Seaworthiness, in the broad sense, applies to the suitability of craft, equipment and apparel. It also applies to paddlers (their skill levels and their experience) when related to their specific paddling disciplines and the conditions in which they are conducted.
Safety conscious paddlers are aware of the strong interconnection of all the components of seaworthiness and how a deficiency in one can adversely affect others and thus contribute towards reducing levels of safety.
To stay safe, paddlers must be aware of their own abilities and those of their paddling companions. They need to be aware of where they are and where they need to get to and the risks they will need to manage along the way.
Safety conscious paddlers are aware that by being highly visible (e.g. wearing bright clothing) they are reducing the prospect of being run over by another, bigger, boat. They also are aware of other risks (such as the conditions, the environment, boating traffic, etc.) and the interconnection between them is vital for safe paddling.
Mental and physical fitness are of paramount importance to safe paddling. It is important to realise that there are many variables associated with safe paddling but generally speaking the tougher the challenge the greater the level of physical and mental fitness required to stay safe.
Paddlers are all exposed to conditions (both natural and man-made) that have the potential to cause injury or death. Safety conscious paddlers will always assess risks of exposure and adjust their paddling plans to ensure they stay within the bounds of safety.
They are also aware of the strong interconnection of all the variables of exposure and how each one has the potential to adversely impact on another and thus dramatically reduce levels of safety.
Paddling SAFE is paddling smart!
Regular maintenance of your craft, equipment and apparel as well as your body is a smart thing to do. Paddling with faulty equipment and niggling injuries is not smart.
Adopting a positive attitude towards your paddling is a smart thing to do. You're in an ever-changing environment that can nourish so many of your senses and emotional needs in a positive way. Enjoy it!
Responsible paddlers are smart paddlers. They realise there's a big downside in being irresponsible (such as paddling without wearing a PFD/Lifejacket, not wearing a helmet when there's fast moving water and hard objects about, etc.).
Letting someone know when you'll be on the water and where you're paddling are responsible (and therefore smart) things to do.
Good technique will enhance your paddling enjoyment. It will lead to improved performance and efficiency. It will look after your body and minimise the prospect of injuries.
It's smart to get tuition in the foundation principles from a qualified instructor related to your paddling discipline.