Learn the safety basics for safe kayaking trips

Kayaking is a sport that anyone can enjoy, but as with all recreational activities, and particularly water-based sports, there’s always a risk. That’s why it’s really important for kayakers of all levels of ability to be aware of, and stick to a certain number of rules, as well as basic common sense whenever they are on the water.



If you buy a kayak then you should be looking to gain some essential information on how to stay safe in your new vessel. Fortunately, we have a great list below which you can refer to:

1. Firstly, and most importantly, never go out on the water without wearing your personal floatation device. Coast Guard regulations state that anyone using a kayak is required to have a lifejacket on board. By wearing your lifejacket, it will help keep your head above water, as well as adding insulation to your body, keeping you warmer in cold conditions, should you capsize and enter the water.

2. Before you go out you should always be aware of the upcoming weather conditions and take note of the water temperature too. You should be prepared that changes in weather are likely to occur, especially here in the UK.

3. Think about wearing a wet suit or dry suit that will provide warmth and comfort, not only from the water but from burning your skin if you’re out on a hot day.

4. Be vigilant and aware of changes to the wind direction. If you are kayaking in the sea, an off-shore wind can make it tricky to paddle to shore, even for the most experienced paddler.

5. You should always follow the boating rules for the specific area you are in as they can vary.

6. You need to be ready to pull out the self-rescue techniques at any point, so it’s best to keep it fresh in your mind by running through it in calm, shallow water, so you’re ready in the more extreme conditions. You can practice in the heightened conditions too, but just be confident in your ability.

7. Before you head out, ensure you inform someone of where you are planning on heading out, where you’re going, and what time you are expected back. Don’t deviate from this plan unless you really have to.

8. It may be tempting on a hot summer’s day, but alcohol and kayaking are really not a good mix, so leave the ale in the car, or save it until you get to the pub with friends after a day’s paddling.

9. Don’t go overloading your kayak and exceeding the weight capacity as this can impair its performance, making it a risk. Also, you should never set off without checking your equipment for wear and tear beforehand.

10. You can watch lots of videos online and pick up tips, but if you want to learn without picking up bad habits you should seek qualified instruction to learn how to paddle correctly. This also counts for water safety and basic first aid too as they are two other important aspects of kayaking.

11. If you’re in the water at the beach then paddling in the surf zone can be busy and present more of a risk with boards and fins in the vicinity, therefore wearing a helmet is advised.

12. Even though you are surrounded by it and you might not feel overly thirsty, it’s essential that you stay hydrated. And it’s worth carrying a few healthy snacks to keep you going, as you don’t want to run out of steam; kayaking uses a lot of energy after all!

13. If you’re trying out a new spot, make sure that you have checked the local currents, shoreline conditions and daily weather patterns. You should note down some spots where you can get off the water if things get a little tricky for you, and you need to take action.

 Stick to these rules and you should be set to have some memorable adventures for a fun and safe trip, every time!

 Image: Squaw Valley Lodge under Creative Commons.

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