Kayaks and canoes can offer a world of fun for the entire family. Their small size, light weight and easy manoeuvrability make them the perfect vessels to use for exploring your local beaches, river ways and lakes with relative ease. As such, knowing the basics about how to safely operate a canoe or kayak is incredibly important. This includes recognising safe conditions for kayaking, knowing how to prepare for different elements and knowing how to minimise any potential risks before you go out. All of the following tips apply regardless of whether you're only hiring a kayak from a professional operator for the day or own one of your own.
When is it safe to head out?
Calm water, clear visibility and mild winds and weather are all good signs indicating that it's safe to go out. If you're out at the beach or on the ocean, choose a location that is sheltered from large waves and strong winds and currents that could separate you from the group or pull you out further. If you're on a river or lake, make sure the path you take doesn't lead to any tight spots you can't navigate through or rotate in. Generally, visibility is best during the day time when there is no fog or rain to obstruct your view. That said, if you're going on a particularly sunny or hot day, it's important to protect yourself using sunblock and appropriate clothing. It's very easy to get sunburn when out on the water as the water tends to reflect the light back up at you.
What can you do to minimise risks?
In addition to appropriate clothing for the conditions you're faced with, there are a number of other things to consider taking with you when you go kayaking. An effective flotation device or lifejacket is a must as these will help you stay afloat if you capsize and can't swim or are faced with unexpected difficult water conditions. If you're hiring a kayak, it's likely that the operator will not let you leave port without one. Furthermore, if you're going for a day trip, be sure to pack food and water, as it's easy to lose energy while kayaking. Note that you shouldn't bring any alcohol. Much like driving a car, alcohol can impair your ability to safely navigate and has been known to lead to drownings.
Finally, it's also a good idea to teach yourself about basic emergency procedures including CPR, which can be lifesaving, and kayak re-entry procedures, which tell you how to safely get back into a kayak if you fall out. These are especially important if you've purchased your own kayak and intend to use it often. Being prepared and educated about kayaking and water safety can save not only your life, but the lives of your friends and family. Having these skills means you'll be able to enjoy your kayaking experience without worrying about what you'd do if things go wrong. Contact a company like Wetspot Water Sports to make sure you have all the equipment you need.