Before you go kayaking you should always practice the basic skills first. Get used to moving around on the water, learn the basic safety routines such as the Eskimo roll to right yourself should you be turned over and always test new skills in a safe environment before you try them on the open water. Knowing the basic skills of kayaking safety will hep you enjoy your time out on the water. Do you know what you need in kayaking safety?
Are you comfortable?
Secondarily you should make sure that you are comfortable with the different types of strokes, rolls and understand how to correctly use all your gear.
Once you have the basics mastered you will be much safer heading out onto the open water and will have a much more rewarding experience. Don’t leave your safety in the hands of fate or just hope that things will go well. ‘Perfect preparation prevents poor performance’ is a military motto of the British Army and you should keep in mind to ensure you have a fun, safe and enjoyable time.
Safety is particularly important if you are heading out onto coastal waterways where tides, changing currents and weather conditions can cause serious issues for you on your trip. Always make sure that you tell someone where you, or your group, are planning to go and when you expect to be back. You can make an arrangement with someone you trust that you will call them when you return at a certain time and if they don’t hear from you, they can raise the alarm with the coastal rescue authorities.
Equipment for Emergencies in Kayaking
Emergency gear is also an essential aspect of your safety protocols. Your emergency coastal kayaking gear should include, at a minimum:
- Compass and charts.
- Emergency Flares to call for assistance.
- Lifejacket for everyone who is with you, including of course yourself, even if you are a strong swimmer.
- Deck Layouts.
- Bilge pump to remove excess water from the kayak from sea waves.
- Waterproof Covers and spray covers.
- Spare paddles that are tied down in the kayak.
Your Stowage Plans are Vital for Safety in Kayaking
When you stow important items in your kayak for coastal cruises make sure they are secured well so they won’t fall overboard, even if you capsize and have to do an Eskimo roll to get back upright again.
To make sure you stay safe, even if you experience an accident and are marooned for a time, it’s essential to take a full survival kit with you.
The fundamental items of a survival kit for sea cruising kayaking are as follows, however don’t be afraid to add to it as you see necessary:
- Water bottles – enough for 6-8 liters per day you expect to be out for.
- Water Purification tablets for emergencies.
- Marine Radio for communication purposes.
- Tent, sleeping bag and air mattress.
- Equipment for cooking and food for several days. You can bring dehydrated packet meals to save on weight.
- Fuel for cooking and keeping warm at night.
- A compact survival stoves.
- Lantern or waterproof torch.
- Complete First Aid Kit.
Pro Tip: When packing your kayak ensure that it remains stable and that you don’t overload it!
Know the Conditions and Check the Weather Forecast
Before you set out for a coastal cruise be sure to check the weather forecast so you don’t paddle haphazardly right into an oncoming storm.
Bringing a marine radio will mean that you can stay in touch with incoming, up to date weather forecasts so you should get advanced warning of any dangerous conditions that might put you and your kayaking group at risk. However, don’t rely on the forecasts and the marine radio entirely. If you see large dark clouds coming over the horizon paddle away from them to avoid lightning, heavy waves and storm conditions!
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The Dangers of Sea Kayaking can be mitigated with the right knowledge, preparation and attentiveness to the conditions around you.
The sea can be a very dangerous place but if you take the risks seriously and follow the pro kayaking safety guidance then you will be safe and enjoy yourself! Don’t let the dangers put you off but at the same do not ignore them! At the end of the day it’s in your hands to maintain your own safety, and although there are many organizations such as the Coast Guard that can offer you assistance, it is far better to avoid trouble and focus on having a good time!
It is worth adding that you should learn how to use all your equipment, especially the survival gear, before you need to use it! You can practice using your compact stove and cooking dehydrated meals in your backyard which is fun and will take away a great deal of stress in the case that you need to use it. Also practice putting up your tent in advance and setting up a survival camp in a safe area. Learn how to use the marine radio and in a supervised environment, test your flares.
Prepare for the worst but expect the best to Stay Safe during Emergencies in Kayaking
Always practice rescue drills and sea survival techniques in the hope that you will never need to use them. Learning these skills will give you more confidence while making you aware of potential dangers that you may not have considered before. There are courses that are run in safe environments, such as swimming pools, by highly trained and qualified specialists that you can enroll on to be sure that you are up to date with the latest methods and techniques. The skills you learn in these sessions are highly transferable and potentially life changing!
Keep practicing the basics and train for potential situations, make sure your emergency equipment is safely secured and maintain safety protocols at all times while you are out on the water.
Never let potential dangers stop you but always stay aware and trust your training
The joys of kayaking, on rivers and in coastal regions, is a wonderful and enjoyable way to spend time with your family, friends and loved ones, but never underestimate the fact that you are in a situation that could rapidly change, so be prepared to deal with any outcome.