Beginner Tips To Ensure Your Safety In A Kayak

Beginner Tips To Ensure Your Safety In A Kayak

Kayaking can be a very enjoyable experience. Whether you're skimming a calm lake and taking in the sights or flying through whitewater rapids, kayaking can be a source of great joy. The combination of the fresh air, breathtaking natural landscapes, and physical exercise prove to be very fulfilling.

When kayaking, it is important to follow every safety guideline for you own protection. Kayaking can be a safe and enjoyable experience if you take the time to educate yourself on the various areas of kayak safety. This article will provide you with the information required to make your first trip (or your return) to the water safer and more agreeable.

Kayaks were initially created thousands of years ago by native Inuit tribes of the northern arctic region. Kayak translates to "hunter's boat" and was used for hunting and fishing. The kayaks moved quietly and even allowed hunters to sneak up on animals along the shoreline.

History of kayak.

There are many different types of paddling activities. Kayaking can be as simple as paddling on a lake or river to enjoy the view, or something more intense like battling sea surf or racing down whitewater rapids. One may also be interested in competing in various specialized activities and contests like sprint racing or marathons.

Before you get ahead of yourself though, you’re going to want to know the basics. First I’ll go over the possible dangers, and then I’ll give you some tips to help you be better prepared.

The Dangers

Although kayaking can be quite enjoyable when done correctly, it still presents possible dangers, especially to those who may be inexperienced. Kayaks aren’t the easiest to control and are capable of tipping over.

Poor technique could also lead to injury and other complications. It's quite easy to put an unnecessary amount of strain on ligaments, muscles, and joints. This strain can lead to pulled or torn muscles, torn ligaments and can even result in permanent joint pain.   

The most common kayak and canoeing injury areas are the shoulder and wrist. Damage to your wrist and shoulder can be very difficult to reverse, and its something you want to avoid at all costs if possible.

Impact injuries are also a possibility. Impact injuries occur when someone falls into the water and gets hit by another object like a piece of driftwood, rock, or possibly even another kayak. Falling into cold water without a wet suit can lead to serious medical issues such as hypothermia. Hypothermia results in a sometimes fatal drop in body temperature.

Drowning is also a risk that's presented with any water-based activities. Although it is always possible, drowning deaths related to kayaking and canoeing activities are not common.

Man under the kayak.

Another possible danger that may present itself is dehydration. Dehydration can occur at any time, but being out in the sun engaging in physical activity could speed up the process. Dehydration can lead to headaches, dizziness, and in more severe cases can even lead to shock or seizure.

General Safety Tips For Kayaking

Being informed of various kayaking safety procedures and various general tips can make your kayaking experiences much more pleasurable. You can never be too prepared for any given situation. Taking the time to learn will ensure your success.

Be Confident In Your Ability

The first step to being successful with kayaking is to understand your ability. Don't overestimate what you're capable of. Try not to push yourself too hard. Practice your paddling and control in shallow waters first.

There’s no shame in taking the time to learn things properly. People won’t judge you for not being able to hit the whitewater right away. Even the pros were exactly where you are right now at one time or another.

Wear The Right Clothes And Monitor Weather Conditions

Knowing the condition of the weather and water is a crucial part of properly preparing for your trip. If it’s too cold and you don’t wear the proper clothing, you risk falling ill to dangerous conditions like hypothermia. Hypothermia and other negative consequences of the cold are not to be taken lightly, and could even prove to be fatal.

The condition of the water is also important. You're going to want to start on calm water just to get the hang of things.  Don’t paddle at night unless you’re more experienced. Don’t paddle in heavy weather like extreme temperatures, high winds, or thunderstorms.

The best time of the day to paddle is the morning when the suns heat isn't quite in full effect yet. It's important to pick a time that's convenient for you, but also a time when conditions are optimal.

Wear A Floatation Device

If you're someone who isn't exactly the most experienced when it comes to kayaking or water-based activities in general wearing a flotation device could be potentially lifesaving.  United States Coast Guard regulations require that all kayaks have a life jacket on board.

Life jackets will keep your head above the water if you fall out of the kayak. A flotation device will also insulate your body, and help keep you warm in cold water. It's highly recommended that you find one that fits well, and wear it every time you paddle.

Follow The Boating Rules

It's essential to follow the boating rules of whatever area you are in. This may include only having access to specific areas, or even restrict specific activities. Speak to an official at the location you've chosen to kayak if you can. Find out what you can and can't do, and maybe even ask for some insight on the area.

Two people kayaking.

It’s also recommended that you never mix drugs or alcohol (prescription or otherwise) with boating. Mixing drugs or alcohol with boating can lead to serious injury or accidents and may even be illegal in your area.

The Conclusion

If you follow these tips, your kayaking experience should be especially exciting! It never hurts to be prepared. Kayaking can be completely safe and vastly fulfilling. As long as you take these precautions, and prepare accordingly, you should have a lovely time.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
Ellen Hughes says October 11, 2018

I do like that you talked about the importance of wearing a flotation device when you’re not experienced in kayaking to make sure that you’ll be able to keep yourself safe. This is something that I will make sure to remember because my husband and I are interested in kayak guided tours. We’d like to make sure that we’ll enjoy our adventure without compromising our safety because we don’t know how to swim. Thanks!

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