Essential Kayak Safety Tips for Responsible Paddlers

Kayak Safety

When it comes to kayaking, safety should always be the number one priority. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, understanding and implementing essential kayak safety tips is not just crucial, but it’s also the key to a fun and secure paddling experience. This blog post will delve into these vital safety tips that responsible paddlers should always keep in mind before embarking on their water adventures.

Kayaking Instruction

Seventeen Essential Safety Tips

  1. Advise a responsible person of your paddle route and approximate return time. Include an emergency protocol that addresses how late you can be before calls are made to the Coast Guard or SAR. Ensure your communication equipment is fully charged and in a waterproof buoyant container. 

  2. Bring a weather radio or other device and check for changes periodically. Know the rules of good conduct as a paddler about motorized traffic. 

  3. The law of tonnage says that bigger always has the right of way because it takes longer to turn and to stop. Know your route. 

  4. Be sure you have read the chart correctly. Have a plan B and C. The goal is actually to come home with a good tale. 

  5. Be honest about your skills and conditions and the skills of your crew. My friend runs a paragliding and hang-gliding camp in Australia. She says that nearly 100 percent of the injuries and deaths are directly related to misjudging skills about conditions. I have found the same in water activities. If you don’t know the Dunning-Kruger effect, please look it up and consider it. 

  6. Utilize all equipment as it is intended to be used. Boats with cockpits that require spray decks should have spray decks, and PFDs must be properly worn at all times. Paddles are for moving the craft through water, not pushing off other boats or shore. 

  7. Check the boat to be sure all parts are in good condition (especially in older boats). Frayed rudder lines, broken cockpit combing, holes, and heavy abrasions all should be repaired. 

  8. Adjust all personal gear and check the other paddlers in your party to ensure that zippers, buckles, etc., are correctly fastened. Don’t leave stuff hanging off your body or boat that might get caught. 

  9. Don’t rush. Go slow to go fast. 
  10. If you have a limited time frame, be conservative with distances and timeouts while allowing ample time to return to your safe zone. Peak fever, so common in mountaineering, is no less common in water adventures. Don’t get caught in the mental trap of thinking you must complete a distance. Do make sure you come home. 

  11. Bring more than one communication device. A handheld VHF and mobile phone. 

  12. Bring plenty of water and snacks. A minimum of 2 liters of water and two snack bars are needed for a day tour. I always have emergency food in case I get stuck. 

  13. Have a first aid, survival, and emergency signaling kit with you. Emergency survival kits save lives. They also increase comfort if the weather turns sour on a day trip. Flares, space blanket, fire starter, signal mirror, bivvy bag (heavy-duty garbage bag). 

  14. Bring spare layers. Never cotton. Go to a second-hand store, get old wool sweaters, and always have rain gear. Even if it isn’t going to rain, if someone falls in or gets wet, the vapor barrier properties of a good rain jacket or paddle top will help them warm up. 

  15. Know how to use the gear you bring with you. Right? 

  16. Get first aid training. Get up-skilled. Help others, help yourself. 

  17. Enjoy- It’s about FUN!

Safety Tools

Wrapping Up Our Guide To Kayak Safety

These precautions aren’t just about a day on the water; they’re about cultivating a mindset of responsible and rewarding exploration throughout your kayaking journey. By staying informed and prepared and integrating these practices into your adventures, each paddle stroke becomes a step towards a safer and more enjoyable experience. So, whether you’re a seasoned paddler or just starting out, embrace these guidelines and let them guide you through the wonders of kayaking with confidence and enjoyment.

At Sitka Wild Coast Kayaks, we fully embrace Leave No Trace Ethics and insist on all guests following these sensible rules for their own safety and the preservation of the ecosystem. 

See ya soon!