How Dangerous Is Kayaking?

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: November 24, 2022
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Kayaking is a very popular water sport and it is also not free from dangers. Kayaking does include a few risks and some common risk factors are hypothermia, cold shock, severe injury, sun exposure, undercut, etc.

Key Takeaways

  • Hypothermia is the primary danger of kayaking and if it happens then your body temperature will reduce quickly
  • While kayaking, you should wear waterproof clothing to avoid Hypothermia
  • If you suddenly get explored by cold water, then you can feel the cold shock, and your nervous system suddenly gets highly stimulated and can stop working permanently
  • Exposure to sunlight while kayaking can cause exhaustion, dehydration, and resulting heatstroke
How Dangerous Is Kayaking

What Is Kayaking?

Before discussing the dangers of kayaking, we must know what kayaking is. Most of us know that kayaking is one of the most popular water sports. But, do you know that the boats used in kayaking are known as kayaks? The name of this sport is derived from the particular type of boats used for this sport. You can kayak in any kind of water body. Generally, kayaking includes paddling in a low-sitting boat. The boat is narrow and enclosed. Usually, at first, kayaks were for only one person. Now, tandem kayaks can hold two or three people with a gradual increase in kayaking popularity. There are various types of kayaks, depending on their sizes and functionalities. The enclosed deck of the kayaks is low in the water. The boats are very swift for their small size and unique structure. 

What Are The Dangers Of Kayaking?

Kayaking is gradually becoming one of the most popular watersports. Tourists and adventurers are leaning towards this fun water ride. The boat ride is indeed thrilling. But we all know that adventure also has some risks side by side. There are some risks in kayaking too. The dangers of kayaking are mentioned here,

1. Hypothermia

What Happens – The name suggests two phrases. The phrases are hypo and them. Hypo means low, and thermic indicates temperature. Kayaking affects the physiological condition of the paddler. The temperature of the body decreases with prolonged exposure to water. This is the primary danger of kayaking. We all know that rivers and ocean waters are icy. The cold water reduces body temperature quickly. This phenomenon is known as Hypothermia.

Solution – There are many solutions for avoiding Hypothermia. We suggest-

1. You should go far from the shore. This way, the rescuers can help you quickly with any inconvenience.

2. You can paddle with your partner. He can be the quickest help in time of need.

3. We recommend wearing waterproof clothing. This can act as a cover for your body from cold waters.

4. Please carry an extra set of dry clothing.

2. Cold Shock

What Happens – Many people feel the cold shock when suddenly exposed to chilled water. The symptoms of a cold shock are a blocked chest and sudden weight in the head. The paddler feels this sensation at the start of kayaking. The nervous system suddenly gets highly stimulated and can stop working permanently. Cold shock can cause a sudden stroke or heart blockage.

Solution – The solutions for a cold shock during kayaking are,

1. We suggest you wear waterproof clothing.

2. Try entering the cold water slowly at first. This can help your body to cope with the extreme coldness of the water. 

3. Have a partner to paddle with. He can save you in need.

3. Inappropriate Use Of PFD

What Happens – Using a PFD is a must for kayaking. A PFD can save you from drowning. The most common mistake paddlers make is not wearing a PFD properly during kayaking. This mistake causes severe injury, accidents, and even death.

Solution – You can avoid many unfortunate injuries by following the suggestions mentioned below,

1. Always use PFD during kayaking.

2. You should take expert help to put on the PFD correctly.

3. Make sure the PFD is not too loose or too tight.

4. Sun Exposure

What Happens – Direct sunlight hits your body during kayaking. Exposure to sunlight causes exhaustion and dehydration. Heatstroke is also a dangerous result of sun exposure. Moreover, the water reflects the sunlight. This reflection hits your body, causing sunburn.

Solution – Sun exposure is a low-risk danger of kayaking. You can avoid the risks of overexposure by following these tips,

1. Use protective goggles to cover your eyes from the direct sunlight during kayaking.

2. We suggest you use sunscreen to avoid sunburn.

5. Undercut

What Happens – If you are a paddler, you will know about an undercut. The undercut is an area with a hollow depression. The undercuts are very dangerous for kayaking. When the paddlers are submerged in the water, you can get trapped in an undercut unknowingly. 

Solution – An experienced hand in paddling can help you in avoiding undercuts. The other solutions are,

1. Wear a life jacket to protect yourself from drowning.

2. Don’t be confused. Gather your strength and calm your mind if you are trapped in an undercut during kayaking. Think quickly for a way out.

6. Sweepers

What Happens – Sweepers are the fallen trees and branches on the water body. Sweepers are not fully detached and drowned in the water. When a person on the kayak accidentally holds on to the sweepers, the boat can tip-off. Everyone loses balance and falls into the water.

Solution – Please follow the rules to avoid hazards of sweepers during kayaking,

1. You should avoid being too close to the sweepers.

2. Try not to hold on to the sweepers.

7. Strainers

What Happens – Strainers are submerged bodies of trees and debris in the water. The kayaks sometimes get trapped against strainers. The flowing water current can tip off the boat trapped against a strainer.

Solution – This is more dangerous than a sweeper. Follow these tips to combat strainers,

1. If you are trapped in a strainer, always try to lean towards it. This will ensure the boat is in an exact position.

2. Try educating your partner on this danger. Make them know what to do in that situation.

8. Obstruction Of Weir Hydraulics

What Happens – A weir is a particular type of manmade dam. It helps to maintain the water level without a full barrier. The opposite side of the weir consists of hydraulic. The hydraulic circulates the water current. This is very dangerous for kayaking. Unfortunately, if a boat comes on the circular path of the hydraulic, it will tip off the boat. 

Solution – The dangers of a weir hydraulic are severe during kayaking. Though you can combat the circular flow of water with the following tips,

1. First of all, you should avoid being close to a weir dam during kayaking.

2. If you get trapped in the hydraulic, be patient. Swim away from the circulating flow of water.

What Are The Real Risk And Perceived Risks Of Kayaking?

Factors Perceived RiskReal Risk
Definition A perceived risk is what a person thinks of doing something. You will be terrified to think of skydiving, but this includes a shallow risk.A real risk is the percentage of actual harm by doing something. A dangerous activity may seem fun. But, in reality, the extent of risk is significant.
In the case of kayakingKayaking in a stagnant water body has a low risk. You may think it is dangerous. But it is not. Kayaking in a lazy river or water body does not include that much risk. You don’t need expert help to kayak paddling in sluggish current flow.The real risk of kayaking in heavy current water is very high. We already discussed the risk factors of kayaking. All the dangers have a common cause. The cause is a heavy current of cold water. Avoid cold seasons and high-current water bodies if you don’t have expert help. Always consult a professional for kayaking in the high-current water body.

So, How Dangerous Is Kayaking?

Every sport in the world includes some extent of the danger. Likewise, kayaking is pretty dangerous too. The various factors of danger affect the paddlers of kayaking. Kayaking is indeed a fun sport. We all wish to do it. But the risk factors turn us from it. We also discussed how to avoid the possible dangers of kayaking. 

You should be extra careful and cautious before indulging in kayaking. Keep in the suggestions mentioned here. Always try to be patient and relaxed during kayaking. An anxious mind can make you forget all the tips given here. 

Kayaking has some risk factors, and they can be avoided. Hire professional kayaking. He can help you understand the process of kayaking properly. You will sound safe if you manage to be smart in times of danger. Precautions and expert help can make all the difference. If you have not paddled before, don’t take the risk of kayaking. First, learn how to paddle correctly. Always take a friend with you for kayaking. Make sure your friend also knows the possible dangers and ways to avoid them. Watching out for each other will help you avoid trouble.

We hope you are satisfied with our information about kayaking. We think about your fun and safety too. Be safe and enjoy kayaking with enough precautions.


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