A lot of people love kayaking as it is a great recreational activity. While kayaking you can combine the relaxing in the water with the paddling exercises. And, it is really safe compared to many other sports. However, as it is practiced in water, you should always bear in mind that something could go wrong in seconds and could lead to serious troubles. No matter if you are kayak beginner or serious kayaker, you should always appreciate the related risks and think about your kayak safety.
That’s why we have made a list of the most important kayak safety tips you should consider.
Always wear a PFD
First and most important, always wear a personal flotation device (PFD), no matter how much experienced you are. When you are paddling, you understand that it is probable to capsize and swim occasionally. In these cases, your PFD will keep you above the water. And will provide additional protection of the warmth of your body in cold water.
And some statistics. According to the American Canoe Association, 85% of the canoe and 48% of kayak fatalities are due to not wearing a lifejacket. Furthermore, nearly 70% of the drawings involving kayaks, canoes, and boats could have been avoided if the victim had been wearing a lifejacket.
Consider the weather conditions
Prepare for the weather conditions and the temperature of the water. Consider how the weather can change. You should also be prepared for the water if you capsize. If you are paddling in open waters, keep in mind that everything could change in minutes and should be cautious. Pay attention to the wind patterns as they can make hard your safe returning to the shore.
Wear according to the weather conditions. Prepare for the cold water.
Select your clothing based on weather conditions and water temperature. If you are paddling during the summer – wear a light long sleeve shirt and take a hat. They will protect you from the sun.
On the other side, kayaking in cold weather is far riskier. Falling in the cold water is very dangerous. It could lead to hypothermia and decrease your muscle strength and swimming abilities. Due to this fact, you should be aware of the cold water safety basics.
In order to be well prepared for the cold water, you should definitely consider wearing a dry suit or wetsuit. They are able to keep your body warm and protected.
Check your kayak and kayaking equipment
It is important to check that your kayak and equipment are in good condition. If everything works as expected, you are ready for your outing. However, pay attention that you don’t exceed the maximum weight capacity of your boat. It is essential for your kayak safety.
Know your skills and limits
We know it is sometimes hard to assess your skills and limits. But, it is for your safety. Know your limits and experience. Try to objectively assess your skills and better don’t try things for which you are not trained enough. Don’t be overconfident!
Train your kayak re-entry skills
Be sure that you have mastered the kayak re-entering skill before you go on trips with a high probability of capsizing. Train your skills in calm and shallow waters first. Then try it in tougher conditions.
Choose appropriate paddling location
Always try to pick an appropriate paddling location based on your experience, paddling skills, and equipment. If you are not experienced enough it is important to select a place with calm waters, low boating traffic and easy access to the water. However, when you gain enough experience and training, you could move to places for more advanced paddlers – windy lakes, rivers, and open waters.
Don’t drink and kayak
It’s simple. Never mix alcohol or drugs with paddling. In many cases, the correct and appropriate decisions could be critical for your paddling safety. Hence, you need to be in good physical and mental condition, while on the water.
Plan your trip and have a plan B
Prepare a plan for your trip in advance and tell it to someone from your family or friends. Inform them about the selected kayaking location and route. It is important to mention how much time will need for the trip and how many other paddlers there are in the group. And, of course, stick to the plan.
One more point, not every trip could go as it is planned. It is not always easy and possible, but try to have a plan B for emergency situations.
Follow the boating rules
Understand and follow the boating rules. Your awareness of the “Rules of the road” are crucial for your kayak safety.
When you are in your kayak, you stay low above the water and it is easy to be missed by the other boats. It will be easier for the other boats to spot you if you are wearing bright clothes and have reflective tape on the paddles. It is a good idea to keep on hand a whistle. If paddling during the night, use a white light.
Finally, keep in mind that the waves from the powerboats near you could easily capsize your boat if you are not cautious.
Bring a change of clothes, water, and food
Prepare a change of clothes, some snacks, and water and store them in a waterproof dry bag. You can also pack your first aid kit and some antiallergic medicine in the dry bag. It’s a sure bet. If something goes wrong – you can wear dry clothes and have food and water until someone come and help you. If everything is fine – you will not stay hungry and will be well hydrated.
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