6 tips to keep you safe in a kayaking emergency

October 13, 2015

Kayaking is a fun and exciting sport, but problems can happen when you're out on the water. And, if an emergency does occur, it's important to know how to handle it. These six tips will help you stay safe while you're kayaking.

6 tips to keep you safe in a kayaking emergency

1. Wear the right equipment

Preparation is the key to successfully handling a kayaking emergency.

Wear a boating helmet, a personal flotation device (PFD) and a dry suit every time you kayak. Your helmet is especially important when you kayak near boulders and rapid water.

Consider buying other gear that can help you stay safe on the water, including a bilge pump, a GPS or other navigation device, and an air horn to signal rescuers.

2. Recover your position

Kayaks are swift and manoeuvrable boats that enthusiasts love taking on the open ocean, down lazy rivers and hurtling through roaring rapids. Regardless of the situation, though, your kayak can roll, leaving you upside down and underwater.

One of the easiest ways to recover from this position is with the hip flick, which essentially involves flicking only your hips and rear end at first, then your upper body once you gain momentum. You can also use your paddle to gain further momentum.

But, you may ultimately have to perform a "wet exit." This move involves getting out of your kayak underwater and then getting back in. once you've righted it.

3. A ditch kit

Many kayakers who end up bailing out of their boats are faced with the daunting task of finding their way home through wilderness areas.

Sometimes, ocean currents take kayakers farther out to sea.

Many kayakers also lose their gear when they lose their boats, putting them in precarious situations.

To help keep yourself from winding up in this sort of situation, put together a ditch kit and keep it on your body, either in a plastic, sealed fanny pack or in a small waterproof backpack.

Include the following items in your ditch kit:

  • Compass
  • Signalling whistle
  • Water purifiers
  • Fire starter
  • Lightweight tarp for building a shelter
  • Signalling device, like a VHF radio
  • First-aid kid

4. Know and practice safety manoeuvres

It's important to know how to do a T-rescue, a buddy roll, the "hand of God" rescue method and other safety manoeuvres.

If a fellow kayaker goes under or is in the process of drowning, these rescue manoeuvres can quickly help you save a life.

5. Paddle float

If you end up outside of the kayak, it can be difficult to get back inside if the boat has taken on water.

But, paddle floats can be attached to your kayak paddle, then inflated when you need them. Using a paddle float will make it easier to leverage yourself back into your kayak.

You should keep a paddle float attached to the bungee cords near the stern of your boat.

6. Share your paddle plan

If you're going on a trip, give a friend or family member information about your route and expected trip time frame. If a kayak emergency happens to you, it's important that someone back home knows where you are.

Nothing beats being prepared for emergencies

These six tips are just a few things to consider both before and while you're out paddling.

But just knowing these tips isn't enough. You need to be prepared and able to put them into practice in an emergency situation so that you — and anyone with you — can get home safely.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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