Are you thinking of trying out a new and exciting activity? Maybe you’ve tried hiking or biking before, but you’re ready to get out on the water. And you think that maybe—just maybe—kayaking is the right activity for you.
Then again, there’s one hangup that keeps coming back into your mind: are kayaks safe?
Every sport has their dangers, but you might not be aware of the dangers and risks of kayaking until you start learning about how to kayak and what you want to avoid doing. Generally, kayaking doesn’t have to be considered a dangerous activity, but it is crucial that you become aware of the risks so that you don’t get injured.
Are Kayaks Safe?
Yes, kayaks are safe! That is the simple answer, of course, and it only applies if you make sure that you follow the necessary guidelines that are suggested by the manufacturers and the kayaking community. If you take unnecessary risk, however, kayaks can become very dangerous. That is why it is vital that you learn about the potential dangers of kayaking before you head out onto the water.
With this information, you will more likely be able to avoid any scary situations that could otherwise arise.
Potential Risks and How To Avoid Them
Are kayaks safe? Yes, they are, but as mentioned, there are still quite a few possible dangers that you need to avoid when you are kayaking. With these tips, you will be able to have a super safe experience while paddling around on the water.
Note: There are times that something can seem very scary, but it isn’t actually dangerous! When you are first starting to kayak, you may feel like you are in danger when, in reality, you are entirely safe. Keep this in mind when deciding if something is actually dangerous or just scary and new.
Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when your internal body temperature gets too low for your body to act normally. The low temperature causes serious physiological reactions.
To lower your risk of hypothermia, make sure that you are wearing the appropriate clothing in cold weather. Also, keep dry clothes stored in dry space so that you can change and warm up if need be. In freezing temperatures, go out in a dry suit or not at all if you aren’t prepared to handle it.
- Cold Shock
Another potential issue that you could encounter is something called cold shock. Cold shock is when you enter water that is so cold, and it causes your body to go into nervous shock.
If you aren’t wearing the appropriate clothing, your body could become almost paralyzed by the nervous system’s reaction.
To avoid this problem, do not kayak on frigid waters if you aren’t trained to handle the risks. If you are going to be somewhere with generally cold water, make sure that you are with a partner who can help you if needed.
Sweepers, also known as low-hanging branches, can be a huge danger to you if you get too close to them while kayaking. Don’t understand what we are trying to say?
- You paddle close to a low-hanging branch or another object near the river edge
- Somehow, you end up capsizing due to how it gets caught on you or your kayak
- You become trapped by your kayak or the sweeper, putting you in great danger
While sweepers will not always cause a situation to turn out like this, they can be very dangerous. For that reason, it’s best to leave a wide area between potential hazards like this, so you don’t end up in a risky situation.
Strainers are the opposite of a sweeper. Rather than being low-hanging branches around the edges of the water, strainers are submerged branches or entire trees that are mostly hidden beneath the surface.
When you get too near a strainer, it can tip the front of your boat in and cause you to capsize. Due to the hidden nature of the strainer, there could be branches or debris that traps you, putting you in a situation where you are fighting for your freedom against the current.
If you end up in a situation where you are unable to avoid approaching a strainer, lean toward it rather than away from it! While counterintuitive, leaning toward it will help you to prevent your boat from flipping and could even save your life.
- Other Hidden Worries
There are a number of other hidden worries that could be lurking under the surface depending on where you are kayaking. From undercurrents to strainers to manmade hydraulics, there are a number of situations that you could find yourself in.
The key to surviving most of these situations is to stay calm and act quickly. You should always be wearing a life jacket while kayaking, and you should always go out with a partner.
Additionally, remember that the best way of escaping a circular current in a river is to swim downstream, and the best way to get out of currents that are pulling you away from shore is to swim parallel to them. By remembering these tips, you have a better chance of surviving.
- Wrong Equipment
Finally, not having the right equipment could put you at risk. When you get out to go kayaking, make sure that you follow these guidelines to ensure your safety:
- Do not overload a kayak over its weight limit.
- Wear the proper life vest for your size and purposes.
- Put sunscreen on to protect yourself from sun exposure.
- Do not wear anything around your neck as it could get caught and hurt you.
Let’s Go Kayaking!
Remember, the point of this list isn’t to scare you away from ever trying this exciting recreational activity. Instead, this list is intended to raise awareness of issues that could put you at risk if you aren’t prepared to handle them.
Now that you know a bit more about these potential problems, you will be better able to keep yourself safe while you are having a good time paddling.