List of 20+ Kayak Safety Tips (Checklist, River/Sea Kayaking Rules)

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: July 12, 2021
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

So, planning on kayaking?

Kayaking is an excellent way to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise in a relatively short time. Yet, kayaking is also dangerous.

List of 20+ kayaking safety tips

There are many kinds of accidents that can occur during a kayak trip, ranging from mild to severe injuries. We’re here to share some safety tips for those who tend to have a lot of fun on the water!

This list of 10 safety tips is based on the experiences shared by experienced outdoor enthusiasts and professional guides who are qualified in kayaking and rafting.

  1. Always put your life jacket on before getting in a kayak or canoe; this will help you stay afloat and protect against drowning.
  2. Keep your hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with you at all times while paddling or rafting so that they are easy to access when needed.
  3. Always be aware of your surroundings while kayaking and always wear a life jacket.
  4. Check your surroundings before entering a new river or lake for the first time.
  5. Keep an eye out for hazards such as debris in the water or landslides.
  6. Examine the weather conditions before you go out on the water.
  7. Bring along the necessary equipment to enter and exit the water safely, such as: a whistle, paddling jacket, compasses, map, etc.
  8. Remain alert while in transit.
  9. Have someone accompany you on land.
  10. Know how to use your emergency gear.
  11. Know how to swim
  12. Always be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for floating objects or debris in the water
  13. Know how to prepare for an emergency landing.
  14. Keep your phone charged and maintain a signal when kayaking
  15. Bring a first aid kit
  16. Be extra cautious when the weather is changing
  17. Add extra leg straps when you’re wearing shorts or tights
  18. Wear sunscreen&goggles
  19. Check for strong currents before recreating near any piers, bridges, or other areas with strong currents
  20. Do not paddle with other people
  21. If you get into trouble, swim parallel

River Kayak Safety Tips:

– Always use a life jacket.

– Make sure the river is calm before you launch your kayak.

– If you’re not wearing a life jacket, it’s recommended that you carry one on your person at all times while on the water.

– Stay close to the shoreline, especially in areas with swift currents and powerful rapids.

– Scan the horizon for potential hazards and obstacles every 20 seconds or so, especially when going upstream or descending rapidly.

– Always wear a helmet, paddling gloves, and polarized sunglasses.

– Inspect your kayak before each use and make sure it’s properly inflated, not damaged and is fitted

– Find a good route: Find an existing river or one near your house with enough depth to paddle but not too deep, with enough current that will keep you moving but not too much so that it’s overwhelming or dangerous. Look for places where there are lots of eddies and bends or what’s called “holes” in the current where you can get stuck.

– Never drink alcohol before a kayaking trip or even after if you plan on paddling for awhile

– Keep the boat close and never leave it unattended

– Know your limitations

– Only go kayaking when you are in good physical shape, one person at a time, etc.

Sea Kayak Safety Tips

With the increase in water sports, it is necessary for kayakers to be aware of some safety tips. Here are a few that will help you stay safe in the water.

– Use a PFD with a whistle

– Wear a life jacket and have your paddling partner keep an eye on you

– Know what to do if someone falls out of the kayak

– Be careful not to be trolled by fishing lines or hooks

– Make sure your boat is in good condition before you get on board

– Always check your boat before getting into the water and do not let children play on boats without adult supervision.

How to Get into a Kayak Safely

The process of getting into a kayak is quite different from the process of getting into a tennis ball.

Before you get into the water, make sure that your kayak is tightly secured to the dock. Once you are sitting in the kayak, use your hands to guide yourself by pulling on the straps and grab hold of any handles in case you need to get out of it quickly.

If you find yourself on an uneven surface or close to a drop-off, it’s best to stop paddling and let go of your paddle before you hit anything.

With this in mind, here are some tips on how to get into a kayak safely:

a) Always wear a life jacket when getting into the water

b) Make sure your body is well balanced before moving your legs and arms

c) Hold onto the side of the kayak with one hand while you move your other hand to the front of it

d) Lean forward so that you can reach for your paddle

e) Choose a kayak that is right for your size and comfort level: The best type of boat for beginners is one that has less volume but makes up for it with stability and durability.

For those who are more demanding on speed and maneuverability, choose a smaller boat that has more volume than stability or go for a high-performance model that can be turned into an all-out racer.

f) Take some time to practice your roll before going out on the water.

Kayak Safety Checklist

Like all recreational activities, kayaking is not injury-proof. There is always the possibility of injury or death. When getting ready to hit the road for your next paddling trip, you have to be aware of kayaking safety tips. You have to equip yourself with protective gear as well.

Your precaution can possibly save your life as well as others.

  • Wearing a Personal Floatation Device, PFD is compulsory. It doesn’t matter whether you are a child or an adult. Every passenger mandatorily has to wear PFDs.
  • Install a weather app on your mobile and check the weather before a kayak trip.
  • Keep essential safety gears loaded on the dry bag inside your kayak.
  • Let your co-riders and security people know that you are going to the middle of the river.
  • Don’t load up much as this will make your kayak heavy and out-of-control.
  • Bring enough dry foods and water with you while kayaking.
  • Radio, a spare Paddle, and a Map should always be with you in your kayak.
  • Be knowledgeable about First Aid that includes CPR. You can check out your local hospitals, or high school adult-ed programs for education on First Aid.
  • Research into local hazards and weather
  • Wear a Personal Floating Device (PFD)
  • Share your float plan with other passengers
  • Don’t forget to bring essential safety gear
  • Don’t go solo

Safety Rules & Regulations in USA

  • Research weather conditions and water temperature. Make sure you are prepared for any change in weather. Be aware of the possibility of a capsize and possible rescue effort.
  • In warm weather, wear a long sleeve shirt can offer sun protection. In cold weather, wear a wet suit, or dry suit; they can keep you warm and comfortable.
  • Buy appropriate clothing for climate conditions. There are sit-inside kayaks, and there are sit-on-tops kayaks. Both have their own advantages. Sit-inside kayaks can protect you from some of the elements. While, sit-on-tops will leave you more exposed.
  • Be aware of the offshore winds. Offshore winds can sometimes make it difficult for you to reach the shore.
  • Your locality may have a few boating rules. Make sure you abide by them.
  • Do not take alcohol or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) before heading out on a boating trip.
  • Do not bulk up your boat exceeding the weight capacity of your boat. Always check your boat, related equipment for wear and tear before you paddle.
  • Learn proper paddling techniques from qualified instructors. Take part in a First Aid class. Be aware of water safety.
  • Learn how to rescue yourself in calm, shallow, and warm water. Moreover, make yourself knowledgeable on how you should kayak in more extreme conditions.
  • Do not forget to wear your Personal Floatation Device (PFD). No matter how favorable the weather condition seems, don’t ignore the importance of Personal Floatation Device.
  • Coast Guard Regulations require that you always keep a lifejacket on board. A lifejacket will add insulation to your body, and keep your head above the water. There are PFDs you will find that are specially designed for paddlers.
  • Invest in a high-quality PFD that fits well. And, wear your PFD every time you go out for a kayak trip.
  • Always bring plenty of food and water.

Equipment Recommendations

The equipment and tools you will bring along may vary according to the type of trip you are going to take. Some accessories are compulsory. You can’t do without a paddle and PFD. These necessary items can keep you safe and make your trip more enjoyable.

Other accessories may include a backrest, scupper stoppers, and dry bags for kayaking. A backrest will help you paddle more comfortably. While scupper stoppers will keep your self-bailing cockpit drier. Dry bags are important for keeping your self-bailing cockpit drier.

There are accessories available for diving, fishing, and more.

Here’s a list of touring equipment and accessories for kayaking trip:

  • PFD/Life Jacket
  • Maps and tidal charts
  • Dry bags
  • Compass
  • Spare paddle
  • Paddle float
  • Sprayskirt
  • Bilge pump
  • Marine radio
  • Safety whistles
  • Towline
  • Signaling device
  • First Aid kit
  • Boat sponge
  • Sunscreen
  • weather app on Mobile or Watch!

List of Accessories Required In Local Hazards

Be aware of hazards that may be unique to a locale. Browse through the Internet, head out to the local library, and collect information on the locale like while kayaking in Nevada. There may be gush of wind always coming up in the afternoon. There could be underwater hazards, unexpected swells, or tricky currents.

Verify whether the locale poses any unique hazard to your trip.

Check out the other pieces of equipment and accessories you mind useful:

Clothing Cold Weather Fishing
SunglassesDry topPaddle clips
Base layer topWet or drysuitRod holders
Paddle jacketDry pantsBow line
Cap/sunhatGloves or pogiesAnchor trolley system
Hummingbird transducer Hummingbird fish finder

Bottom Line

You never know what could happen on your next paddling trip. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Always remember to head the warnings, safety rules, and tips discussed in this article. You may print out this page to your friends or for yourself for future trips.

Leave a Comment

3 × four =