Kayak Safety Tips to Avoid Accidents & Injury
As we work through the coronavirus pandemic, lots of people have started to adopt new hobbies as a way to have fun while staying socially distant. Since many types of outdoor activities are considered low-risk for being exposed to COVID-19, one activity that has recently grown in popularity is kayaking. Not only is it a great way to get some fresh air and exercise, it’s easy for kayakers to keep plenty of distance from others on the water.
But as is the case for every other type of watercraft, it’s absolutely possible for people to get seriously hurt or even killed if proper precautions aren’t taken. According to data from the U.S. Coast Guard, only 4.4% of all registered boats in 2018 were paddlecraft, such as kayaks and canoes, but paddlecraft were involved in nearly 20% of all boating fatalities.
Wear a Life Jacket
No matter what type of boat you’re on, one of the best ways to stay safe is by wearing a life jacket. The vast majority of drowning victims are found not wearing a life jacket or any other type of personal flotation device. Even if you think you’re a good swimmer, it can be easy to end up in the water without warning. A lot of people think they’ll be able to put a life jacket on if conditions start to seem dangerous, but if a kayak starts to capsize, you may not have a chance to put on a lifejacket before you get into the water.
Take a Kayaking Class
One of the most common causes of boating accidents is a lack of experience. Just because a kayak is smaller than many other types of boats and doesn’t have a motor, that doesn’t mean it can’t potentially be dangerous. Over the past few years, kayaks have become more affordable and accessible than ever before, but this has led to a trend of more inexperienced kayakers being out on the water. In many cases, people are buying kayaks without getting any guidance about safety. Taking a kayaking class is a great way to build your skills and learn about important safety information that will help you be better prepared when you get out on the water.
Don’t Drink While Kayaking
Alcohol is another common contributing factor to many boating accidents every year. Just as drinking alcohol can impair your ability to safely drive a car, it can also impair your ability to boat safely. Even though it might seem like it would be nice to have a few drinks while you’re out on the water, it’s best to save the drinks to enjoy after you’re after the water. If conditions change or you encounter a hazard in the water, you’ll need to be able to respond as quickly as possible.
Watch Out for Hazards in the Water
Debris in the water, such as large branches, logs, or fallen trees, can pose a serious danger for kayakers. Very often, kayakers end up getting into trouble when they think they’ll be able to maneuver around a hazard, but underestimate the size of the object that’s hidden under the water or if a strong current forces them into a stationary object.
Not only do you need to watch out for debris in the water, you also need to watch out for things like dams. If a dam is coming up ahead of you, it’s best to get your kayak out of the water and walk it around the dam. Even if it looks like it would just be a small drop, low dams can still produce currents that can potentially result in drownings.
Check the Weather Forecast & Water Conditions
Another safety rule that applies to all types of boats is to check the weather and water conditions before heading out on the water. If visibility is low, winds are strong, or there are storms in the forecast, it’s best to wait for another day. Or if water levels are unusually high, keep in mind that there’s a chance the extra water could make it more difficult to see those hazards in the water.
If you’ve been injured in a kayaking accident that could have been prevented, one of the best things you can do is get in touch with a boating accident lawyer. No matter what type of boat is involved, the negligence of one person can have tragic consequences. At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to speak to a Michigan-based lawyer who can help answer your questions and help you understand your legal options. Contact us today for help with your case.
Image: iStock / takoburito