Kayaking Safety – The Essentials

When you go kayaking, you must have respect for the water and Mother Nature. Here are a few essential tips to help you stay safe.

  • While it’s fine to go kayaking alone if you are experienced, it is a better idea to go with a friend. It is much safer to kayak with two or more people.
  • Always wear your life jacket – not only is it safe, it’s the law.
  • Try to avoid situations that are beyond your kayaking abilities. If you are not comfortable kayaking in strong currents, then don’t do it.
  • Make sure you know how to swim and if you don’t, take lessons.
  • Learn essential kayaking strokes and maneuvers such as the wet-exit, re-entry, high brace and low brace. Practice these strokes and procedures until they become second nature.
  • Know where you are going and what hazards you are going to encounter. This way there won’t be any surprises.
  • Always carry proper gear and equipment including proper footgear, raingear, sunscreen, first-aid kit, extra paddle, map, compass, knife, emergency food, sunglasses, etc.
  • Be aware of the environment you will be paddling in. Check the weather, river levels and water temperature before you leave.
  • Keep your kayak properly maintained.
  • Always have a safety plan and make sure everyone kayaking with you knows about the plan.
  • Stay close to the those around you but leave enough room between kayaks so they can move around and turn quickly if needed.

If you capsize…

Hold onto your kayak tightly and get to calm water as soon as possible. Stay calm while you attempt to re-enter your kayak.

If others capsize…

First, get in a safe place and be sure you are not going to flip. Next, make sure the paddler is safe and has latched onto their kayak. Help them get to shore or calmer waters. Rescue any gear that has fallen out of their kayak.

Every paddler should have an emergency whistle. Everyone in your group should know the signals:

  • One blast – slow down
  • Two blasts – go to shore
  • Three blasts – capsize, take proper action for rescue
  • Four blasts – approaching powerboat or jetski

10 Must-Have Items to Stay Safe While Kayaking

1. PFD
2. Large brimmed hat or helmet
3. Proper Footwear
4. Emergency whistle
5. Water bottles and snacks
6. Dry Bag
7. Rope Throw Bag
8. Knife
9. First Aid Kit
10. Sunscreen, sunglasses and lip balm