Beginner Kayak Safety Primer

Kayaking is an exciting sport that gets you out into the water for adventure and excitement. For many people, the beginning of their kayaking adventure is the entrance into a favorite new hobby that is practiced for a lifetime. When you are out on the water you will find that kayaking is a great work out in addition to an exciting way to relax and get in touch with nature. Introduction kayaking classes are a great way to develop the skills necessary to be safe on the water. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind as you develop your kayaking skills.

  • Never paddle alone. Solo kayaking places you at undue risk of drowning or injury. Having the benefit of a paddling buddy provides an extra set of hands should you flip and not be able to self-correct.
  • Bring a spare paddle. Do not end “up a creek without a paddle.” Whitewater, surf and obstacles may strip your paddle out of your hand, leaving you bobbling through the flow without a way of controlling and steering the kayak. Bring a spare, two piece paddle that breaks down and can be stored in the hull of the boat.
  • Dress for the conditions. Cold water strips heat from your body up to 10x faster than cold air. Even the waters around Jacksonville get cold enough to present a danger. If you experience a wet-exit and are not adequately dressed for the conditions, hypothermia can shut you down in minutes. Simple tasks like gripping the paddle become impossible, which could lead to injury or worse.
  • Wear a helmet. Yes, water tends to be soft, but the rocks, logs and sweepers in or over the water are not. Be smart and prevent traumatic brain injury by wearing an approved helmet when taking on the rapids.
  • Always wear a PFD. Personal floatation devices (PFDs) are absolutely critical to safe kayaking. Be sure your PFD of choice is USCG approved and is properly fit. If you are unsure how to fit a PFD go to a kayak retailer and ask a sale associate for assistance.
  • Learn how to use a throw-bag. There is a very specific technique to safe and proper throw-bag use. Take a class in whitewater/ swift water rescue to “learn the ropes.”
  • Arming yourself with this basic kayaking safety knowledge ensures your safety. A great way to learn these skills is with guided kayak tours in Jacksonville. The safety tips and knowledge that these courses offer will serve you well on the water.


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