Kayaking Safety Tips

Other Must-Haves

  • A whistle or air-horn of audible capability per Navigational Rule 35
  • Float line with or without clips used for towing
  • Paddle float to assist in the even of a capsize
  • Spare paddle, not required but a good plan for longer trips
  • Directional awareness and familiarity with route
  • Know how to upright a capsize
  • Knowledge of weather and forecasted changes
  • Sun protection: sunglasses, hat, sunscreen

More: How to Care for Your Kayak

Avoid Alcohol & Stimulants

These just don't combine well with water sports. First, alcohol will dehydrate your body and impair your judgment as well as accelerate hypothermia. You need to be alert and sharp, so leave the stimulants behind.

Self Rescue and Assisted Rescue ... the Reality

Recreational kayaks are made for calm water and close to shore usage. They have a large open cockpit and generally don't have enough floatation to be paddled ashore when they are swamped. They'll float but not supporting your weight in it. So what do you do if something goes wrong?

  • Don't panic
  • Stay with your kayak
  • Find your paddle and hold on to it
  • Float on your back so you can push off any objects with your feet
  • Stay upstream in currents, don't get caught between the kayak and rocks

More: How to Upright Your Kayak

Using self rescue skills, you need to first upright the kayak. Next you will need to re-enter the swamped cockpit using your paddle float to stabilize the kayak. In an assisted rescue a second kayak acts as a stabilizer.

Kick to propel yourself onto the deck and into the swamped cockpit. Next, secure the paddle and grab the hand pump to get the water out. After the water is out, you can then paddle to shore.

If you cannot re-enter the kayak you will have to tow it.

Cold Water Paddling Precautions

In some areas, particularly during early spring and late fall, you may get a day where the air temperature is 80 degrees or more but the water temperature is a frigid 40 degrees. Be aware of the gear you wear and dangers of extremely cold water.

More: How to Kayak With Your Dog

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About the Author

Elizabeth Schaffer

Smart-Start-Kayaking.com is dedicated to kayaking beginners. Covering all the basic "how to's" and more to get you paddling safely and with confidence.

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