Top Kayak Safety Rules
Kayaking is one of those few water sports that, although adventurous and seemingly extreme, are actually quite friendly for beginners. Kayaking has varying degrees of difficulty, so practically anyone can in fact go ahead and try it. Moreover, introductory lessons for beginners are also affordable and easily accessible in well-known kayaking spots.
Despite the relative safety of kayaking, however, it must still be noted that accidents can happen. Unfortunately, more often than not, kayaking mishaps are due to lack of preparation or failure to follow basic safety precautions on the part of the kayaker. That said, whether you are a beginner or a long-time kayaker – you can read about the best Kayaks over at the Kayak Room if you are looking to read reviews and buy a Kayak – it is incredibly important to revisit some kayaking safety measures every so often.
So without further ado, here are the top safety rules that any kayaker should take to heart when kayaking:
Seek qualified instructions
Regardless of your experience in water sports, it is still incredibly important to get instructions from a qualified professional before going on your first kayaking adventure. A qualified instructor will be able to teach you basic paddling techniques, important safety precautions while kayaking, and basic first aid. An instructor will also be able to give you proper briefing as to what to do in case your kayak capsizes or should the weather conditions abruptly change. More than anything else, preparedness will keep you safe when kayaking.
Whether you plan on kayaking by yourself or with a group, it is important to know how to rescue yourself in case things go wrong. Start with practicing self-rescue in calmer waters under ideal conditions. Once you have gained confidence, start practicing in more difficult conditions. This way, you will have a better grasp of how to rescue yourself in a variety of circumstances. Also, experiencing extreme conditions first-hand will help you stay calm and collected in case something unexpected happens while you are kayaking.
Always be aware of the weather and water conditions
The most challenging part of any outdoor water sport is the outdoor conditions. After all, not only do you have to prepare in accordance with the weather and water conditions, you also have to prepare for any possible changes. That said, make sure to check the weather forecast, as well as the water temperature, before you go kayaking. If there will be chances of a drizzle or if it is just simply chilly out, wear enough protective clothing. If it is sunny, make sure to wear something that will cover your skin and do not forget to wear a sunscreen. Likewise, make sure to check the water temperature. The water can be cold despite the warm weather, so it is advisable to wear a wet suit to keep you warm in case your kayak capsizes. Trust me, kayak capsizes are not all that uncommon.
Check off-shore winds
Kayakers, especially beginners, tend to be very mindful of the weather, but not so much of off-shore winds. Bear in mind that the day may be sunny and the water relatively calm, but the off-shore winds might be a bit unforgiving. Even if you think you are physically fit, you still must not discount the fact that strong off-shore winds can be tricky on your return trip. After all, by the time you turn around, you would have already been paddling for a significant amount of time. The fatigue could make the paddle back extra difficult.
Always check your kayak and your equipment
Kayaks are pretty sturdy, but if you are renting one, then it is extremely important to check for wear and tear. This also goes for your paddle, life vests, and other equipment you will be taking with you. In addition, make sure to also double check the weight capacity of your kayak and make sure that you do not exceed the same, especially if you are lugging around a lot of equipment.
Do not go kayaking after drinking alcohol or taking medications
Even going swimming is not advisable after alcohol intake, so it is an even greater prohibition for kayaking. Remember, you have to be alert and at your best physical condition when kayaking, especially when you are paddling in unfamiliar waters for the first time. The same also goes for medications, be it prescription or non-prescription. Medications might either have some side effects that might be exacerbated by the physical activity or impair some of your physical and mental faculties. It is better to stay on the safe side.
Know the boating rules in the area where you will be kayaking and strictly follow them
Boating regulations are in place to keep everyone safe, especially kayakers, so do not take them lightly. If there is curfew or restricted areas, then make sure to follow them even if you are confident in your kayaking skills.
Always tell someone your itinerary
Before you set out kayaking, make sure that at least one person knows your paddling plan, your route, what time you will be setting out, and what time you expect to be back. Having someone who can anticipate where you are at any given moment will ensure that someone will come looking for you in case of a mishap. Also, this will help in locating you, especially if you are paddling in trickier waters.
Of course, these tips do not fully encompass everything that you need to know about kayaking safety. After all, experience is still the best teacher and suffering some inconveniences first-hand will help you develop better kayaking habits. Nevertheless, learning these eight tips by heart will save you from unnecessary hassle or even injuries. It will also help you enjoy your kayaking adventure better since you would not have to worry so much about running into an accident and not knowing what to do. Keeping safe and ensuring a smooth-sailing kayaking trip will also afford you more time to improve your paddling skills and will help ease you along more difficult trails and rapids. Keep safe and have fun!