Try It Thursday: Kayaking 101

by Kimberly Vanderpoel on June 9th, 2017

Nearly 70 percent of all drownings involving canoes, kayaks, or rafts might have been avoided if the victim had been wearing a lifejacket.

My husband and I recently purchased Kayaks for our 31st wedding anniversary. Last Sunday we took our Kayak’s to Lake Alvin to try them out. I thought I did some research on Kayaking safety tips. Here is what I learned:

  1. Don’t drink alcohol and paddle. The two just don’t mix.
  2. Always wear a life jacket on the water. (After one trip on the lake, I quickly learned that the life jacket we purchased for me, isn’t going to work, so before we go out again, I will be visiting a sporting goods store.)
  3. Always dress for the conditions. Cold water represents the biggest hazard because immersion in cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia. Now if you are going to be paddling in cold or cooler water, you need to be more conservative with all your decisions, and you need to paddle in calm conditions, close to shore and never alone.
  4. Choose an appropriate paddling location for your skill level. The ideal kayaking environment has protection from wind and waves, a good access point for launching and landing, lots of places to go ashore and minimal motorized boat traffic. Look for calm bays or quiet lakes and river ways without noticeable current.
  5.  Practice in safe conditions with instructors or expert paddlers to expand your personal performance.
  6. Be aware of how changing weather affects paddling, and plan accordingly. For canoeists and kayakers, air temperature is less important than wind speed and direction. And while rain can be a nuisance, lightning is dangerous. Have an exit strategy at all times. If a fast-moving thunderstorm appears, where is the nearest safe landing? Don’t wait for bad weather. If you sense a change for the worse, get off the water right away.
  7. Choose a brightly colored life jacket and paddling clothing that will make it easier for others to see you on the water.
  8. Carry a light, especially if there’s a chance you’ll be on the water early or late in the day. High visibility strobes and running lights are available at your local paddling shop.
  9. Never assume that power boaters can see you. Avoid high-traffic areas whenever possible, and proceed with caution when you can’t avoid them.
  10. Learn the ‘Rules of the Road’ that govern all boat traffic, from kayaks to container ships. Knowing these simple rules will help you anticipate where other boats will go, and allow you to stay out of trouble.

Here is a great tip that I found at

Share Your Plan

Telling a trusted friend where and when you plan to paddle ensures that someone will know where to send help if you get into trouble.

Make it Routine

Keep a basic float plan on your computer or phone, and make a habit of filling it out and send – ing it to a friend every time you paddle. Include the Four Ws

  • Who: Your name and the name of everyone paddling with you.
  • Where: Your planned put-in, takeout and pad – dling route.
  • When: Your estimated launch and return time—and when to notify authorities if you don’t check in as scheduled.
  • What to Do: A plan for what to do if you don’t return or check in as scheduled.

For more safety informaton on kayaking, go to

Remember…Be Smart…Be Safe…Have Fun!

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