Seems all to common these days that a kayaker has been injured, or even worse drowned, because they didn’t take the proper safety precautions. In fact, there are over 58,000 stories of this on the internet. We all know accidents happen, but let’s take a look at some of the tips that can help you ensure that you, and others, make it home after a kayak trip.
Here are some of the most important tips:
Wear a life jacket
- There are many cheap life jackets on the market. Rest assured that a cheap life jacket is better than no life jacket at all. Some of the cheaper ones run under $20 at wal mart. Some of the more expensive ones, that are more comfortable, cost much more. The bottom line is get one and wear it.
- Too many times we have read stories where a kayak, or a canoe, was found with a life jacket inside – meanwhile the person is yet to be recovered. There’s a reason the life jacket is usually found, it doesn’t like to go under water. And with you in it, it will help you not go under water.
Check the water conditions first
- There are many websites that will allow you to check the flow and height of a moving body of water before you decide to get into the water or not. For example, you can check the flow and the height of the Flint River here.
- Using that website alone isn’t all you need to do. You need to think about if it’s rained, or if it’s going to rain, up river from you. Remember water moves at a really fast pace, so if you’re on the water and a storm happens up river from you, it can reach you quicker than you expect. Be smart, think ahead, be prepared to get out at the first second of a rapid increase in the flow of the river.
- Use common sense. If it’s rained hard for the past 4 hours, it’s probably not a great time to get on moving water.
Tell your friends or family the details of your trip
- Let someone, or multiple people know your plans for your trip. Including where you are going (specifics), when you plan to be done, and when you plan on letting someone know you’re out of the water.
Don’t kayak alone
- Sure there are times where this may not be possible, but as a general rule of thumb always have a buddy and always keep a buddy within seeing distance. When the wind is whipping, you may think you’re within sound distance, but that can be deceiving.
There are other small tips that may help you if things have gone bad while kayaking:
- Consider and talk about what you’d do if you and a kayaking buddy were separated – have a plan
- If it’s the colder seasons, what would you do if you fell in? Carry a lighter with you, in case you have to start a fire to warm up. Hypothermia is real and it will kill you.
- Did you have your phone in a dry bag/box? Do you have signal? Remember you can call 911 without cell phone service
- Do you know general directions? If not, keep heading down river until you find help.
Use common sense
Go home to your friends, family, wife and kids
Live to see another day