Kayaking is a wonderful activity that can bring the whole family together for both fitness and fun. Before you get on the water, however, follow these five tips for a safer journey.
1. Take A Kayaking Course
This is especially important if you plan on kayaking with children. They’ll need to know basic skills like how to grip a paddle and how to safely recover from a capsized vessel, and unless you’re an expert at outdoor water actvitites, you’ll probably need a few pointers as well. The good news is that there are a variety of kayaking resources at your disposal. From skill development courses to certification training from the American Canoe Association, you can learn all about kayaking from a trained instructor before going out on your own.
2. Practice Rescue Maneuvers
The worst time to test your rescuing skills is when someone is actually in danger. A better course of action is to practice, practice and practice some more so that instinct and muscle memory will kick in during an emergency situation. Here are just a few techniques that you might want to nail down:
– Self-rescue (both with and without tools)
– Boat-assisted rescue (with pulling and towing)
– Shoreline rescue (with throwing, extending and towing)
You never know when rescue maneuvers will come in handy, so take the time to watch a few how-to videos. Your preparation today might save a life tomorrow.
3. Dress Appropriately
Life jackets are essential, of course, so be sure that they’re properly fitted, buckled and inflated. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that personal flotation devices (PFDs) are the extent of your kayaking gear! Children in particular should be bundled up in several layers to stave off any illnesses that they might contract from being cold and wet. Cold water shock is very real and very dangerous. You might consider the purchase of neoprene wetsuits to help everyone stay safe during long kayaking journeys.
4. Pack Carefully
You may have visions of your family zipping down a white-water river with nothing but your kayak and the wind blowing through your hair, but that vision will dissipate pretty quickly after a few rounds of “mom, I’m hungry!” and “dad, I’m getting sunburned!” It’s better to pack more and not less when going on the water with children. Here are a few things to consider for your day bag:
– Extra clothes and hats
– Whistles, flashlights and flares
– First-aid supplies
– Seat pads
5. Scope Out the Area
You might wind up sharing your channel with boaters, swimmers, snorkelers and other people enjoying the water, so it’s critical that you practice good etiquette and safety techniques. Do you know what to do when confronted by a powered watercraft? Are you aware of the typical zoning restrictions around bridges and dams? You don’t want to cause an incident or get slapped with a fine, so do your homework before heading out for your kayaking trip. You’ll be glad that you did!