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Kayaking is a great way to get out on the water and enjoy time in nature, but if you’ve never been, it’s perfectly understandable to wonder “how safe is kayaking?” The last thing that you want to do is put yourself or your family members at risk of being seriously injured, so it’s reasonable to want to completely understand the risks and how you can mitigate them while out on the water.
Kayaking can be a safe and enjoyable ocean adventure, pending you prepare for your trip, understand safety procedures, and have a firm respect for the sea. Preparing for your trip goes beyond investing, or renting, appropriate gear, it also means establishing safety procedures for accidents while out on the water. Here we’ve gathered some information on kayaking safety for beginners.
Learn How to Capsize
Many people think that it sounds counterintuitive, but in order to learn how to kayak safely, you need to learn how to capsize. Capsizing happens. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to kayak for long periods of time without capsizing, and unless you know how to do it safely, you will be putting yourself in danger every time you go out on the water.
If you don’t have a close friend or family member who is an expert kayaker and can talk you through the process of what to do when an accident happens, then you’ll need to sign up for kayaking lessons before you ever go kayaking. There are ways to right yourself when you have tipped over, and unless you understand them and can implement them, you’ll find yourself in a very dangerous situation.
Dress for the Water, Not the Weather
A common mistake made by beginner kayakers is that they dress to be comfortable in the weather, especially if it is a sunny and hot day. While this is great for spending the day at the beach, it’s not your best bet for kayaking. The water will be colder than the air temperature, sometimes much colder, and if you’re not prepared to get wet you may put yourself in danger. Much like preparing to capsize, always also prepare to fall into the water.Make sure that you dress in clothing that is appropriate for the water. Not only is the air much cooler on the water than it is on land, but if you tip over, then you’ll be glad that you wore kayaking gloves, water shoes, and a wetsuit, not shorts and a tank top.
Use Your Safety Equipment
Sure, it may seem bulky, and you may not feel like you can move as easily when you have on a personal flotation device, but it’s a minor inconvenience to keep yourself safe on the water. Safety is paramount, and the type of safety equipment or gear that you need will vary depending on where you are going to be kayaking, so consider your surroundings when you invest or rent gear.
One of the most important things that beginners need to remember is that there is a huge difference between kayaking on a still lake and kayaking in rocky ocean waters. Flotation devices should always be worn, and some waters may also require wearing a helmet for ultimate protection.
Practice Your Paddling on Dry Land
Of course you’ll want to get out onto the water in your kayak as soon as possible, but it’s crucial to understand the correct way to paddle your boat to have the best time possible, and stay safe on the water A common mistake made by beginners is that they take their kayak into without practicing paddling beforehand.
To make your adventure easier, it’s a good idea to practice the motion and your strokes while still on dry land. This gives you the opportunity to get the feel for what you are doing and to ensure that you understand the mechanics of a smooth stroke before you start paddling.
Kayaking Safety Depends on You
It’s up to you to make sure that you’re prepared to be as safe as possible while you’re in your kayak. While you can’t prepare for every accident or emergency that you may face, by preparing yourself, understanding safety protocol in dangerous situations, and wearing the right gear, you’ll be prepared for success on the water!
If you’re new to kayaking, then you’ll want to kayak with someone who has more experience. This person will be able to address any problems that you may be having and give you the support that you need to succeed.
If you want to try kayaking, and push your body through the water while exploring marine life, then it’s time to get started! To ensure that you are going to be as safe as possible in your next adventure, however, it’s important that you take time to prepare for your trip and education yourself on what you need to do when faced with an emergency.
Not only is kayaking a great workout and versatile for all skill levels, but it’s a lot of fun for beginners and more advanced kayakers alike. Make sure that you are going to be as safe as possible out on the water by following the tips provided in this guide, and by taking your time getting started.
Join the Seaside Planet Community- we want to hear from you! Tell us about your kayaking safety concerns, or your kayaking adventures, in the comment section below.
Related: Pick the Right Kayak for a Beginner
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.