Stay Safe While Kayaking or Canoeing
By Paul Rothbart
Boating is a fun summertime activity. Small boats, such as a kayak or canoe also provide great exercise. Motorboats are fun but don't give you much of a workout. Paddling around in nature is also good for relaxation and relieving stress. You can explore, fish, or take on challenging waterways. Like any other watersport, safety is of prime importance. The risk of injury or death by drowning, is all too real. Here are some safety tips that will allow you to enjoy paddling without risking your life.
Know the Body of Water
You should have a basic familiarity of the water you will be paddling in. You don't have to know it like the back of your hand, but be aware of the type of body it is and any potentially dangerous conditions. Lakes and ponds are usually still, but know where shallows and underwater rocks may be to prevent damaging the boat or yourself. Rivers and streams have currents. Know where there are rapids and avoid them unless you are experienced and in a group. Ocean kayaking is fun, but the surf and rip currents can be very dangerous. Consult a tide chart and don't get into a situation you can't handle. Plan smart and avoid trouble.
Always have each person in the boat wear an approved life jacket. The majority of drowning victims each year were not wearing life jackets. Even good swimmers should wear them. If the boat capsizes and you are injured or unconscious, you may not be able to swim. In the rapids, wear a helmet. It is far too easy to be thrown from a boat and hit your head on a rock. Always carry a first aid kit as well. Small injuries can be treated and larger ones controlled until help arrives. Carry water for drinking. Dehydration can occur even when traveling on water.
Don't Paddle Alone
Canoeing and kayaking are like swimming in that the buddy system is the safest way to go. Paddling alone may be peaceful, but if you get into trouble or become injured, you will have no one to help you. If the situation is more than you can handle, your chances of survival are greatly diminished. Bring along at least one person who you can trust to practice safety. Having company makes most things more fun as well.
Paddling around in a canoe or kayak is good for the body and mind as well as being fun. But potential danger lurks in those waters. Practice these safety tips to enjoy your boating trip and get back safely so you can do it again in the future.
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