Although flat water canoeing is generally a very safe activity, if things do end up taking a turn for the worst, being out on the water means that situations can become very serious very quickly. And so it’s worth taking a moment to look at how to deal with some of these situations.
Avoiding dangerous situations is surprisingly easy. First and foremost, alcohol and paddling do not mix. Unfortunately, alcohol is responsible for too many boating-related accidents.
Secondly, wear a PFD whenever you’re on the water, and paddling PFDs are the best because they’re the most comfortable to wear while you’re paddling. Always carry your safety whistle with your PFD
Third, select an appropriate paddling spot. This means choosing one has easily reached access spots, and has minimal motor boat traffic.
Lastly, dress for the conditions, and if you’re paddling in cold water, be conservative with all your decisions.
Dealing with Weather
Weather will always have a big bearing on whether or not you should go kayaking, and depending on where you’re paddling, you’ll have different weather hazards to deal with.
If you hear thunder, you know that there’s lightning around. When you’re in the water, you’re the highest point for quite a distance in any direction, which makes you a perfect lightning rod. When there’s a thunderstorm nearby, the best thing to do is just get out of the water and wait for it to pass.
- Wear your life jacket! It’s always possible to capsize in any water condition. Learn how wearing your life jacket can save your life
- Always carry your safety whistle
- Before you leave, make sure you know where you are going. It is also a good idea to tell a responsible person about your plans of where you will be and when you expect to return.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave for your destination so that you can pack the proper equipment.
- Before you leave your vehicle, make sure all valuables are out of sight and make sure your lock your doors.
- Carry identification that includes your name, phone number, pertinent medical information, and emergency contact information in a waterproof bag. You can also store your cell phone and camera in the bag as well.
- Know the water conditions. Sometimes the river will be high or low. This makes the water conditions very different and it is important to know what to expect.
- Never go kayaking while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Dress appropriately for weather conditions. Carry extra clothes in a dry bag in case you flip and go for a swim. Hypothermia can be deadly
- Avoid fallen trees and other in-stream obstructions.
- Carry a supply of food and water adequate for your trip length.
- Avoid weather or water conditions beyond your skill level.
- Learn rescue skills necessary to assist others.
- Plan for emergencies, carry basic first aid.
- Inform others of your trip plan.
- Leave No Trace and Wildlife Ethics
- Leave the river and shoreline cleaner than you find them.
- Carry out your trash
- Leave rocks and plants as you find them.
- Make sure you bring drinking water and stay hydrated