10 Great Kayaking Safety Tips

Canoes and Kayaks

If you’re like me, then you love spending time out on the water kayaking. It’s a great way to get some exercise and enjoy nature at the same time. But it’s important to stay safe while kayaking, so I’ve put together a few safety tips and basic kayaking safety equipment for you. Keep these 10 safety tips in mind these common sense tips next time you hit the water and have a great time!

10 Kayaking Safety Tips

Kayak Safety Tips

Always Wear A Lifejacket (PFD)

A well fitted life jacket or personal floatation device (PFD) is essential for keeping you safe in case of an accident. Even if you’re an experienced kayaker, never go out on the water without wearing a life jacket.  Not only can it save your life but it also gives you added protection from the cold in the colder climates.  

Never fall into the trap of just carrying your PFD with you with the intentions of putting it on if you get into trouble.  You wouldn’t put a seat belt on after a car accident would you?  Wear your life jacket!

Be Aware of Weather Conditions

A fun day on the water can turn into something much more serious if you’re not careful. Be aware of changes in weather and prepare for them so you are well protected out there! Check out the weather forecast before you pull out of your driveway. 

A wet suit or dry-suit will help keep your body temperature consistent while paddle, depending on what season it is; even sunshine needs protection from overheating when outdoors during warmer times which means a long sleeve shirt to help block UV rays. 

Be aware of wind and current directions, keeping in mind fatigue on the return trip.

Never Mix Alcohol and Drugs with Kayaking

Kayaking is a fun, active and healthy way to spend time outdoors. However never do so while under the influence of alcohol or any other drugs because this can be very dangerous for both you and others around your vessel!  If you get into difficulties being under the influence will impair your judgement and reaction times.  Kayak safety never be compromised with alcohol or drugs.

Wear A Kayaking Helmet

Helmets are necessary if you intend to go whitewater or surf kayaking.  Any type of moving currents or waves could cause paddlers to be suddenly thrown out into shallow water, areas with submerged or low handing trees or onto rocky areas. The best kayaking helmet is one that’s fitted securely under the chin. 

helmet for kayaking
Photo by Chip Vincent on Unsplash

Tell Someone Where You're Going

Tell a friend or relative your travel and kayaking plans.  This includes where you will be travelling, what you’ll be doing when you arrive and for what period of time you’ll be away.  If you’re not travelling alone it’s also a good idea to let them know how many people are in your group. 

It can be worthwhile finding out if you will have phone service in the area you are travelling to.  Most important of all, once you have made your plan – STICK TO IT! 

kayak safety gear
Photo by Murat Bahar on Unsplash

Stay Hydrated and bring food

Kayaking can be very taxing on the body causing loss in body fluids through sweating, especially on hot days.  To avoid dehydration it’s important to stay well hydrated by sipping regularly from a drink bottle.  If you intend staying out on the water that little bit longer it may be worthwhile investing in a hydration pack as they can hold more water.  

Make sure you bring a supply of food long enough to keep you nourished for time you plan being away.  Small protein and energy bars are are great option as they take up little room but can provide a great source of protein and carbohydrates. 

Check Your Equipment

Always check your kayaking equipment for wear and tear BEFORE you leave home.  It’s a bit late to find a leak in your boat or tear in your PFD after you’ve launched.  Not only is it dangerous not to check your equipment but it can easily ruin your trip. 

Dress For The Climate

Keep abreast of the weather conditions and the temperature of the water.  Dress in layers, especially on top. Try to avoid wearing cotton as it absorbs and hold water.  Go for the quick drying fabrics instead.  Wear comfortable clothing that allows for greater range of movement that is unlikely to cause abrasion to the skin.

Dress for protection from the sun. Reflection from water can magnify a day of sun exposure so cover up with long sleeves and a hat.

As mentioned earlier a wet or dry suit can be a great option depending on the climate.

Speak To The Locals

Have you ever been kayaking and thought, “I wonder how that guy knows where all the best spots are?” Well he doesn’t know. The locals do! When paddling in a new area make sure to check with those around for currents conditions or weather patterns before your adventure starts- it’ll help keep everything safe while making things fun too.

Familiarise yourself with local laws or kayaking rules for the area.  This is especially relevant if paddling in waters shared with larger vessels.  Having a sound understanding of what buoys and markers mean can help keep you safe.

Paddle At Your Own Ability

If you’re kayaking for the first time, taking on a river with rapids or the open sea in a sea kayak is not a good place to start.  Overturning a kayak is always a real possibility and having the skill to safely recover from a roll is essential. 

Increasing kayaking skill level requires taking yourself out of your comfort zone but you must do this in a safe way.  Introduce yourself to the world of paddling gradually, starting with flat waters in favourable weather conditions.  If possible see k out a qualified instructor to learn correct paddling techniques and water safety.

is kayaking safe
Photo by Nick Matz on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

The dangers of kayaking should not to be taken lightly. With the right safety precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience on your next kayaking trip. To help ensure that everyone has an amazing time while staying safe, please follow these guidelines for proper kayak safety.  We wish you all the best on your next kayaking adventure.

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