No sport is virtually risk-free. So it is important to remember that safety comes first. Kayaking is no doubt a fun activity, but it could be disastrous if the necessary safety precautions are ignored.
General safety rules
General safety rules apply to every level of paddlers.
Since kayaking is an outdoor water sport, wearing a well-fitted wetsuit, life jacket and helmet is imperative. Similarly, skipping on a pair of UV-Protected sunglasses and waterproof Sun Block is not recommended.
Remember that kayaking requires continuous paddling. You can exhaust yourself very soon if you are not physically fit. Regular exercising will keep you in shape for a long-lasting kayaking trip.
Thoroughly inspect your equipment before commencing on a kayaking trip. A small tear or a minor dent should not be ignored and should be repaired at the earliest.
Carry a waterproof bag that would help you to store necessities like a fully charged mobile phone LED torch, First-Aid kit, whistle, compass, drinking water, food etc.
Learn basic swimming strokes. Even though you will be wearing a life jacket, it is essential to feel comfortable in the water.
Follow the local rules and regulations of the kayaking areas.
Understand the International Distress Signals to help you during emergency situations.
Safety Precautions for beginners
In addition to the above safety rules, inexperienced paddlers have to be extra careful and take some more precautionary steps to avoid any danger or injury while kayaking.
You should know how to launch your kayak and some basic paddling strokes. Kayaking trip is a success only when correct techniques are employed.
It is safe to begin kayaking with a group of 3-4 experienced paddlers. This will help you to learn a lot about kayaking - like reading the water, kayaking techniques etc. Planning a kayaking adventure all alone can be disastrous as you may be unable to handle any contingency.
Plan the first few kayaking tours in calm and slow-moving water to get the knack of paddling continuously.
Safety Precautions for Whitewater River Paddlers
Generally, river paddlers have some previous paddling experience. Nevertheless, river kayaking can be fatal.
Rivers have been classified according to their difficulty based on their speed and waves. Study the river thoroughly, before you embark on a kayaking trip. River conditions change seasonally. Thus, it is obligatory to know the course, speed and the river difficulty to avert any possible danger.
Given the continuous flow of the river with its bumps and swells, a kayak can capsize and keep you submerged for a few seconds. With regular practice, you can learn to regain your upright position.
In spite of the safety precautions, if anything does go wrong, it is important not to panic. Be calm, think with a clear mind, and patiently execute your rescue plan.