Kayaking Safety! Understanding Safety First

By Andrew from Rocky’s Rudders

We all need to UNDERSTAND WHAT SAFETY FIRST means when you are a kayaker. What I mean by that is listed below:

1. NEVER EVER GO OUT WITHOUT THE PROPER EQUIPMENT (and if you do go out without the gear you need you are only asking for trouble sooner or later)

a. PFD not just a orange life jacket you would wear on a fishing boat. You need a real PFD made for kayaking. If you are unsure of what one would look like you can google kayaking PFD and there are numerous companies that sell them.

b. PADDLE LEASH: ALWAYS HAVE ONE ON YOUR PADDLE. A paddle leash is one of the most important things you will need if you do fall out of your kayak. Did you know you can actually use your paddle to help you swim back to safety?

c. PADDLE FLOAT: There are 2 different kinds of paddle floats, one you blow up and one that is safer and is a special type of foam that FLOATS. A paddle float will help you get back in your boat if you were to fall out.

d. EMERGENCY RADIO: VERY VERY IMPORTANT TO REACH COAST GUARD and or other boaters who could be in the waters near by who could come and assist if you are in trouble. And believe me it happens to even the ones who have paddled many many miles. I personally have had to use mine last year(if you want to know more on that subject just ask)

d. WHISTLE: which is used to get help if in need. And maybe it would not be you in particular that may need help, maybe it would be a fellow kayaker.

e. KNIFE: needed for cutting line, for instance if you get caught up in old fisherman’s line…or for assistance in making a fire. This device has SEVERAL ways you would need to use it.

f. BILGE PUMP: If you do have a wet water exit(fall out of your boat) you will need to get the water out of your kayak. You can not just “dump” it out you will need the bilge pump to pump the water out. They have these available in manual form or in an automatic form

g. BEACON LIGHT: This is used for emergency purposes only. Which you never know when you will be in that type of situation

These are just a few BASIC pieces of gear you need BEFORE even going out in a kayak. There is many more items you should have with you before you leave on any type of paddling adventure rather it be a short run or a longer paddling day.

It is all our responsibility to set an example for fellow kayakers new to the sport or whom have been paddling for years to be prepared for anything that could happen.  That would mean taking a wet water entry and exit lesson.

How many kayakers know how to get back into their kayak if they would capsize? I have an 11 yr old daughter whom I taught to know how to get back in her kayak and she can do it in 35 seconds….This is an IMPORTANT kayaking skill and please do not think that OH IT WON’T HAPPEN TO ME…I AM ALWAYS SAFE ON THE WATER and I CAN “SWIM”….In the water that is around here, hypothermia starts to set in within 10 minutes. Once that starts you start to get worn out, your thinking is effected and not for the better and hypothermia hits the HEART and makes the heart unable to pump the blood through to your body correctly.

I just want everyone to be SAFE on the water and to UNDERSTAND what their responsibilities are to THEMSELVES AND TO FELLOW KAYAKERS.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to ask away.

Andrew Griffin of Rocky’s Rudders has paddled over 7,000 miles on some of North America’s most breathtaking backwater and wilderness areas.   Andrew offers service, sales and guide services in Wisconsin.

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