Kayaking is dangerous. It can be deadly if you are not wearing a lifejacket. The sun is intense, the weather can be bad, there are poisonous creatures, sharks, hidden rocks, sweepers and strainers.
All adventure sports come along with an element of risk.
Even the ones that are considered the safest. While the common perception is that the main risk associated with adventure sports is accidents, that’s not the case.
Most of the injuries that happen are due to carelessness or lack of precaution and safety gear.
While it’s true that adventure sports are a way for people to satiate their adrenaline rush, and the thrill is directly proportional to the magnitude of risk for many, the latter is a rookie thought.
You’ll find most pros who do it for a living never compromise on the safety precautions. Why? Because they’re well aware of the risks associated with it. And love the sport so much that they don’t want to take risks that’ll leave them incapacitated. They have too much fun to even gamble on the chance of not being able to do it again.
Kayaking is considered a relatively safe activity to engage in as long as it’s on still waters. Whitewater Kayaking requires a lot of training, and anyone who wants to do it without training for it first is just putting their lives in peril for cheap thrills. Risks include:
Dangers in Kayaking
factors that make kayaking a dangerous paddlesport:
Sun exposure may seem like a pretty small risk when it comes to kayaking but it should not be taken lightly. If you are exposed to the sun without sunscreen for an hour or two you will be fine. But if your exposure to the sun exceeds this time then the sun might become an actual threat.
Water reflects sunlight. You will not only be exposed to the sun directly but the water will be reflecting a lot of sunlight right into your skin. Being exposed to the sun for long periods may lead to sunburn, heatstroke, and dehydration. Always wear sunscreen on the water.it is better to wear a hat as well for maximum protection from the sun.
While capsizing is a common occurrence while Kayaking in rapid waters, most of the whitewater Kayakers are used to dealing with it. Capsizing in still waters is rare, but rookies tend to make mistakes like bending over to pick up something or leaning back too much to take a picture. As long as you don’t capsize while paddling rapidly across fast waters, there is no real risk of injury.
Always wear a life jacket even if you know how to swim because its the law and you will tire out if far from shore and not make it. You don’t know when help will arrive, so you need to conserve energy by just floating on the water. You can’t exhaust yourself trying to stay afloat and lose consciousness.
Lightning and Bad Weather
It is a very bad idea to kayak in a storm. But there are times when you are out on the water and a storm starts. Not all kayaks are weather-resistant and high winds of storms can limit the mobility of your kayak and can also cause it to turn over.
Rain can affect visibility. It is best to get off the water as soon as you hear thunder or see a flash of lightning. Lightning and water do not get along and if you stay on the water in the middle of a storm, you are at risk of getting electrocuted
Such as alligators, snakes, birds, fish, and sharks may attack, be on the look out.
Read up on the lake and river you’re planning to go for Kayaking. If it has crocodiles or other animals, avoid Kayaking there. The nature of animals is unpredictable. Even if you mean no harm, they’ll attack you just for encroaching their territory or if they look at as a risk to their offspring. Quite a few seasoned Kayakers have lost their lives to a hungry aggressive croc or alligator.
Cold shock is a major risk when kayaking in cold waters. Even if the air does not seem that cold, the temperature can be a whole different story. If your body hits cold water in this case, it can get a cold shock. Cold shock occurs when the extreme temperature change affects your body causing breathing problems, blood pressure changes, and mental problems.
So it is best to always have company when kayaking in cold water as someone with you can help if you capsize. Being properly dressed and having wetsuits and drysuits is also important as they keep your body warm if you end up capsizing.
Strainers and Sweepers
Strainers and sweepers are one of the most dangerous obstacles that you may face while kayaking. Strainers are objects in rivers through which water can pass but solid objects like people and kayaks can not. They can be man-made like grates or natural like logs.
Strainers can trap you underwater and can end up being deadly. Trees that have fallen from the riverbanks but are not detached completely are called sweepers. Their branches act like strainers. If you see a sweeper or a strainer while kayaking do not try to paddle through it or over it as it can prove to be life threatening. Avoid it at all costs.
Strainers are the exact opposite of sweepers. They’re obstacles below the water surface not visible to the naked eye. They can cause minor injuries and possibly capsize the Kayak in still waters but can be lethal in rapids.
Sweepers can’t possibly cause injury in still water as the Kayaker has a lot of control there, and the speed is less. But while Kayaking in rapids, the Kayaker might notice the sweeper too late to make any amends. The best they can do is lean down or maneuver their body around it to avoid a collision.
Undercut rocks are mostly found in fast-moving whitewater. They are irregular rock formations underwater. They act as traps for fallen trees and other debris. It is hard to spot them but strong rapids make it difficult to avoid undercut rocks even if you do end up seeing them.
Make sure rescue is available when you are going through whitewater. It is best to have someone with you while you are kayaking on whitewater. Also, be sure that you learn as much as you can and get to know your whitewater before you start paddling there.
Like every other sport, plenty of risks come with kayaking. If you are not careful, you may be risking your safety as a result of which your kayaking adventure can turn into a life threatening situation giving you a precarious experience instead of an enjoyable one.
- Bring a whistle, cell phone, and marine radio.
- Always carry a compass while Kayaking in the sea. If your Kayak gets capsized away from the shore, you can use the compass to figure out which side the beach is and start swimming towards it.
- Study about the Flora & Fauna of the lake, river, or sea you’re planning to Kayak in. Speak to the locals and hire professional guides to come along with you. Do not risk going to waters you haven’t studied in detail.
- No beer until of the water
- Avoid Rapids above class II. They have ratings for a reason. Even if you’ve become a pro Kayaker, they’re not just worth the risk. The amount of uncertainties associated is way too high, and the Kayaker has very little control due to the sheer speed.
- Always wear a life jacket. Be it still water, rapids, or the sea, don’t step inside the Kayak without a life jacket. It’s called the life jacket for a reason. It’ll possibly save your life if you get separated from your Kayak.
- While Kayaking in the sea, always stay in sight of the shore. And if you want to go deep, go along with a seasoned Kayaker who knows those waters well.
- Pick the right Kayak for the water you’re going in. If you’re even planning to go for Whitewater Kayaking in Class I rapids, don’t take your recreational Kayak. Rent one if you have to, but make sure that the Kayak you’re riding matches the conditions you’re Kayaking in.
Ocean kayaking is the most dangerous out of all types of kayaking because of the vast lengths of the ocean and the endless possibilities out there. You can be injured or die from sharks, weather, cold, other boats, and currents.
If you are pro in kayaking now and you want to do sea kayaking, there is some extra care that you need to do for that, bring the following things beside the basic kit:
- waterproof torch that floats
- cell phone and gps
- marine radio
- bilge pump and bailing device
- distress signal devices such as orange smoke sticks, red flares, parachute distress rocket or dye markers
- spare paddle
Sharks are a major threat when it comes to ocean kayaking. Kayakers get too adventurous and venture out farther and farther because it is tempting to go deeper and deeper into the ocean.
This is because kayaks are smaller and they can access areas that people usually can not see if they are not using kayaks and are in bigger boats or ships. These remote and normally inaccessible areas are usually full of all kinds of marine life, harmless and harmful, as they are not accessed by people often.
Some of the deadly creatures that might be lurking there are sharks. You do not want to encounter one of these on your kayaking trips as it may prove to be a fatal accident and can even take your life. Bull sharks are found in shallow waters usually while others may be found deeper.
It is 100% safe to be around whales in a kayak. They don’t pose any danger to you unless they are provoked.
In ocean kayaking, the weather is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable factors. One minute it is sunny and the next minute you might be hearing thunder. To get caught in a storm while ocean kayaking is a rather terrible and dangerous thing to happen.
If you have paddled too far into the ocean and are in deep waters, chances are that shore is nowhere nearby. With land being so far away, if a storm occurs the lightning, high winds, and rain can cause all kinds of accidents. Your craft can turn over and you may fall in the water having to swim for hours in order to find land, in case you can not get back up on your craft. You do not want to be hit by a bolt of lightning as that might kill you. Lightning hits the highest objects so use low angle stroke and put your head down..
Capsizing is another danger of ocean kayaking as it might lead to hypothermia. Wind and rough waters can cause your kayak to capsize. Not having the rescue equipment or any company with you in case of such an emergency can prove to be life-threatening.
If you get submerged in cold water after capsizing and your body is exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time you might get hypothermia. Hypothermia can also be caused if the air is cold and you are paddling and are not properly dressed. Other factors leading to hypothermia are seasickness, getting extremely tires, or getting lost.
A kayak is quite small so when ocean kayaking you have to watch out for other larger boats or ships because you do not want a collision. Bigger boats and ships are usually very fast and they might not even spot your kayak. Therefore, it is better to stay close together in the form of groups so that larger crafts may notice you. Choose a kayak with bright colors and wear a bright life jacket and hat. This will make you visible. Waving a paddle with bright yellow, orange, and red paddle blades up and down will be easiest to notice.
Currents are very dangerous and can carry you far away from where you started paddling. They can be very challenging for kayakers. Overcome them by staying calm and paddling perpendicular to the current.
The reasons to start kayaking are endless. But safety comes first, Make sure you do your research, have all the necessary gear and equipment, and know the area before you set out. Its best to take all the measures necessary to have a safe and enjoyable kayaking trip.
Fear is connected with Kayaking directly or indirectly. Plenty of risks are connected with kayaking. Here is the top 9 list:
The first fear of getting capsized
According to me first fear that comes to mind is of getting capsized which is very dangerous, even it can be lethal and for an untrained person, no doubt it will be like heading towards death. To avoid such a situation,one should be trained to avoid such fears. One may take proper classes for it. One may face stuck capsized paddler. If you are not alone then it’s ok, the other paddler would come into action but if you are the only paddler then it can cause problems.
The depth of the water
Naturally, we all fear the depth of water. There may unimaginable depths for kayaking along with bad weather. Therefore, for such areas, a group of 3 paddlers is always safest. In such a scenario it is advisable to travel along the sea shoreline. In case of any emergency, one can easily get to the edge of the sea. It would be a self-rescue program then, but if you train you can easily tackle such situations. It is recommended to take a pump or a drainage device if alone.
People also fear of getting lost in the sea. As was mentioned for an unexperienced person it is recommended to travel along the bank of the water. It is also advisable to keep a compass with yourself or a GPS and you should have also a good battery for charging and keep a bottle full of water with yourself. You can also keep a map with yourself which can help you in a difficult time. If you get lost at sea it can often be a jarring and anxiety-ridden experience.
4. Getting nervous
Each one of us gets nervous when a difficult situation comes but the situation, we are discussing means kayaking it is of course may be dangerous and often the experienced and trained one becomes nervous in certain situations. In such a sort of position, one has to control his nervousness and should try not to be nervous. If you get too nervous your senses may not work properly and you may fall out of your ride. You should relax and should try to think about how to get out of this problem.
Hitting with a rock
This also comes into mind that Kayak may hit with a rock or something hard like a rock. This sort of feeling can weaken your nerves too, during such conditions one cannot think properly and when you do not think properly you can be in trouble. Such situations can be treated best when you get trained by a good teacher. Thus, before kayaking one should get proper training from an expert. This training can make your nerves strong enough to tackle unpleasant incidents. Avoid traveling in rocky areas.
Outside the local area
When the kayaking is outside the local area. For example, water between forests, one may be afraid of aquatic creatures. You may be afraid of an attack from the water. This is also natural we humans often afraid of aquatic animals like crocodiles etc. But relax do not worry this can happen only outside local areas e.g. traveling in the forest area or hilly area etc. This can happen to only those who perform major adventures. An untrained and inexperienced person like us can never do it alone in such areas outside the common locality.
One may also consider weather issues. Weather can get worse, and if you are kayaking in sea area then it is really dangerous if weather conditions get wrong. It can create serious problems like vision issues if the weather gets worse. Bad weather can bring storm too which can be very dangerous for you especially in the sea area as it was mentioned earlier. To avoid such fears, one should not go out for kayaking in such weather or one should consult a weather forecast before going out for kayaking.
If you’re Kayaking during summers, you’ll need sunglasses and a cap to protect you from the heat. During winters, you’ll need to wear a vest to keep your chest warm and woolen socks inside your boots. You’ll also need Paddling Gloves to make sure that your hands don’t become numb. Gloves will also help you avoid abrasions and injuries. If you’re going for still waters Kayaking during rains, wear a rain jacket on top of your T-Shirt.
Take Kayaking Lessons
For kayaking lovers, it is advisable to take kayaking lessons from a certified teacher. It will help you much and it will increase your experience. Getting the right training from the right person is essential and must. These lessons can help you in the worst situations during kayaking. Instructors can also be available online; you can search authentic websites and consult the right people to guide you. These instructors not only teach you how to be a good person but will also teach you how to hold your nerves strong.
All the Right Safety Gears
One should take all the necessary stuff especially the safety tools should be your priority. Capsizing, falling overboard, and drowning are all serious scenarios that should be respected and prepared for and the right gears can help mitigate the risk to any serious catastrophe from happening to you. For starters personal floatation device is compulsory, it can reduce the risk of drowning or other major incidents. It is recommended to make a checklist of all the necessary things you need for your safety. Thus, safety should be first.
Slowly Increase the Amount of Time Spent
Gradually you will learn and will gain experience.Try to increase the time of your practice. With time, you will become braver and will learn the essential skills to control various situations in a good and easy manner. As you find yourself spending more and more time training, learning, and becoming brave, you can look back at your past successes with pride. It is rightly said that practice makes a man perfect and you will be trained well.
Sharks – watch out.
Alligators – big teeth.
Giant catfish – yikes
Swans and large birds:
Swans have also even killed humans. Avoid being closer to a big bird or swan otherwise, they will retaliate. Commonly, swans become more aggressive when they are in the pursuit to protect their nesting grounds and anyone for example the kayakers approach their area. The most dangerous part of a swan is its big wings from which it can cause serious injuries. Also, they have a long and sharp beak to attack.
Crocodiles are really dangerous animals and can be frequently observed in certain places of Florida, Central, and South America, Mexico, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Australia. Crocodiles do not follow their prey but they suddenly attack from a stationary start. They can travel along the sea and possess glands that filter salts. While going for kayaking, one must make sure that there are no crocodiles along the water otherwise they will accidentally attack without knowing.
Almost 400 shark species are found along the ocean. A special kind of shark, the Bull Shark is a powerful predator and has attacked numerous humans. The tiger shark only drags behind the white shark in several recorded attacks on humans. Also, the color of kayaks matters a lot for a shark to attack. Very reflective colors like silver or white attract bull sharks and tiger sharks more as compared to blue and black colors. It is rare but there are pieces of evidence of shark attacking the kayak.
These animals can be found in small running rivers and grassy swamps. The predators’ largemouth ensures that their prey is unable to move. The animal then moves around it to consume it effectively. They usually keep to themselves and do not harm kayakers but when they are aggressive, they are more likely to attack kayakers. This occurs during the breeding season when they are most aggressive. A few incidents reveal that alligators have bitten canoes and kayaks that caused damage to boats and minor injuries to the kayakers.
You do not always have to start rolling up your sleeves and mentally preparing yourself for an epic showdown. You surprisingly have the option of backing away from the alligator and exiting the scene before it does any serious damage. Try to avoid marshes and ponds in general especially at night. That is when they come out and can cause some serious damage if you are not careful. However, if one has gotten you in their sights just back away as much as you can until you are far out of their reach.
Punch The Snout:
Punching the snout is an awfully good way to get the alligator disoriented and leave it reeling with pain. You need to have an ideal position and summon all the strength you can in your dominant hand as you make a fist and slam it down hard on the snout. This will be a painful experience for the alligator and may give you plenty of time to get up.
Run In A Zig-Zag Motion:
This is a fact you might have heard about a million times on the Internet but it is one that shockingly works. Alligators are fast critters and can catch up to you in no time at all if you run straight in one direction. When you start changing direction again and again and follow a zig-zag path that is when they fail to keep up. They just might end up so confused they think you are no longer worth all the effort and submerge themselves back into the swamp.
Gauge Their Eyes:
Eyes are supposed to be supremely sensitive areas no matter what kind of a living creature you are dealing with. Whether it is a human or an animal, aiming there can be excruciatingly painful for the one you are trying to hurt. If you realize that there is nowhere to run and you have been cornered by an alligator, leaving you only with the option to fight, to gauge their eyes is a pretty good place to start. The alligator may have sharp claws and pointy teeth but once they get attacked in the eyes even they cannot reel in their senses long enough to have you on the ground instead.
Do Not Pry Open The Mouth:
Overestimating yourself is probably one of the worst mistakes you can make when dealing with a deadly predator. Remember that the alligator has extreme strength and will not hold back when it comes to using it. Instead of trying to pry open the mouth and potentially getting one of your limbs bitten off, just opt for one of the sensitive spots like the eyes or snout. This can go a long way towards saving your life and letting you walk away on two legs with two arms whipping back and forth.
It is less often that a seal tries to jump on your kayak. The easy way to avoid it is to move your kayak calmly as seals are not aggressive creatures. They do not harm mostly due to their gentle nature. While grey seals are particularly dangerous for swimmers and kayakers. It has been discovered that they are behind the widespread slaughter.
They are extremely aggressive animals especially if one tries to approach their defined territory. They can attack humans if their kayaks may enter in beavers region. So it is better to look for the beavers to have a safe journey. They may also attack due to fear and get disoriented during the day.
Otters may also attack your kayak. It has been reported in Florida that a 77 years old woman was kayaking and got attacked by an otter and she got treatment for rabies and got stitches. Although they may appear soft, small, and cuddly, they are dangerous wild animals. They have a powerful bite so better to maintain a safe distance from them.
It is often less seen that a sea lion attacks a human driving kayak but if you come within 2.5 meters with a sea lion, it can be really dangerous. Such animals only attack when they are being disturbed or fear from humans so better to stay away from them. Reported in 2007 in Western Australia, a sea lion attacked a 13-year-old girl badly while she was on a boat. They fear less from humans and are intelligent animals.
A narrow watercraft runs by a double-bladed paddle. The word Kayak has been derived from “Qajaq”. It is made narrower to flow efficiently.
In a nutshell, fear is connected with kayaking because it is related to water and us humans generally afraid of water especially seawater or deep lake. But nothing to worry you can get yourself trained.
Kayaking is on still waters is relatively safe, so Helmet is not needed there. A helmet is a must for Whitewater Kayaking as the chances of injury are higher there.
Life Jacket is compulsory for all forms of Kayaking.
You can carry a radio with you if you’re going on long trips so that you’re up to date with changes in the weather and can also call for help when needed.
You can also carry a GPS device with you, in case the place you’re going to doesn’t have mobile network coverage. Compass is a must while going for Sea Kayaking as there is a chance of getting lost or losing the sense of direction there. Invest in a waterproof container secured in the Kayak to keep your phone & GPS device safe. The waterproof storage should also contain a first aid kit that’s got adhesive bandages, antiseptic liquid, cotton, and a few over-the-counter pain relievers.
However, taking the proper precautions and doing your research before kayaking can make it a fun and safe sport.
How can you ensure safety while kayak fishing?
Don’t take your most expensive rods the first few times
They’re a strong chance that you’ll flip a few times during your first few days of Kayak Fishing. When that happens, the rods that you’re carrying might break. First, get used to the Kayak, and once you’re sure that you can keep the balance even in rough conditions, then take out your expensive gear.
Shorter rods are better for Kayak Fishing
If you’ve been fishing at the shore or are used to fishing from a powerboat, you would’ve been using the long fishing rods(9 ft). Those rods are hard to balance on a Kayak. For Kayak Fishing, the recommended rod size is 6ft to 8ft. It gives you more space to balance and maneuver while fighting with the fish.
Get used to paddling with one hand
You’ll need to learn how to paddle with one hand if you want to be good at Kayak Fishing. If you’ve got a catch and are fighting it, you’ll have to keep paddling upstream with just one hand as your other hand will be holding your catch. If you’re not comfortable paddling with one hand, there is a chance that you might lose your catch while trying to maintain balance.
If you’re fishing in shallow lakes and rivers, anchors are come in handy. If there are strong winds and it’s challenging to keep the Kayak in one place, instead of paddling back and forth, one can drop the anchor and stay at the fishing spot to focus on catching fish instead of staying still. You can either get a claw anchor or make a DIY anchor using dumbbells. For shallow waters, an anchor weighing anywhere between 2-4 pounds is good enough.
Research and Recon the location before going
Research is a vital part of Kayak fishing. It sets your expectations straight regarding the type and the frequency of catch. Don’t become too adventurous and venture into unknown waters. There can be crocs and alligators that can topple your Kayak. There might be a scarcity of fish at the spot you’ve chosen, and you might have to come back empty-handed.
Don’t spend the entire space of rods & baits
Fishing requires patience. You’ll have to be in the water at times for the entire day. Make sure that you carry enough food and potable water to get by and a lifestraw. Since summers are the season for fishing, there is also a possible chance of dehydration. You have to be on top of your game to fish, and dehydration can cause disorientation.
Pick the right Kayak
You don’t need to go for the premium Kayaks right in the beginning. Most of the fishing happens in still waters, and even the entry-level Kayaks are good enough for those. Once you start doing it regularly, you can invest in a premium one. The main things to look for in a Kayak for fishing are
- Elevated seating position (For better vision) sit on top
- Hardshell instead of inflatable
- Multiple Rod Holders (To accommodate more than one fishing rod)
- Paddle Holders (To hold the paddles while you drop the anchor and stick to a single spot for fishing)
- A dry hatch (storage concealed inside the Kayak)
Kayaks do not flip over easily, they hardly every do that because they are designed to be stable. Nevertheless, the type of water where your paddling and the sort of Kayak are considered to cause a risk of tipping can still overcome such cases.
Let’s look at all the information that will help you whenever you notice that your Kayak may potentially flip.
- Pick the Right Paddling Conditions
Choose the right paddling conditions that suit your level of experience and skill with kayaking. During kayaking, the weather determines how safe you will be in the sea or kale. Sometimes you might experience the waves being higher of strong winds that might trigger flipping over. You need to avoid such elements and plan on your trip that allows you to kayak in fair weather.
- How to prevent your Boat from Tipping Over
A few techniques can get used to Prevent your Kayak from capsizing, but not every flip can get prevented. Practice how to reduce the flipping, and once your skills get leveled up, you won’t be experiencing the issue.
- You are balancing of your Kayak properly.
A kayaking guide requires you to go out with a kayak that is well balanced so that the risks of tipping over get reduced. Distribute all your stuff equally first in the boat to begin balancing it, and the weight should even form one length to another. Doing this will make it easier for you to keep balance and not struggle in water; hence there will be no tipping.
- Consider using a high brace.
A high brace method is a powerful stroke recovery method that virtually allows you to balance while getting wet. Power gets generated when you push the blade against the water surface; hence you can restore the boat through the provided energy. A high brace involves paddling when you’re under the paddle blade, and you support it by dragging it down. You should maintain a standard paddle grip on the forward and keep it near your body while using your feet to control the boat. The process is how you can successfully prevent yourself from tipping over during kayaking.
You may not achieve long-lasting braces during paddle stroking because they get to disappear underwater when the blades sink. They need to be brought right away at the surface by sliding it through the water. Once they are up, sweep through the water back and forth to maintain its rising process to an angle in the direction of the boat.
- Use of the low brace
Recover balance using the low brace method without getting wet. It involves a quick and efficient stroke that ideally allows you to master your instinctive reaction whenever a boat wants to flip over. The process consists of taking the right posture while in the Kayak and being able to maintain the grip of the paddle usually.
You should bring it near the hip while pointing the blade downward and putting your elbow as high as it should be. The knuckles point downwards, and as the boat moves, the blades’ edge should be slightly elevated and pointing towards the Kayak.
The paddling position will get upwards and not dive under the water. When the Kayak gets restored to its original position, try using a rotating force to create balance. Continued practice will make this process seem more comfortable than how it sounds right now.
Maintain your body during this process so that you get closer to the deck. You can as well use the sweeping motion in the low brace. In involves bracing for a longer time.
Whenever you go for a kayaking trip, ensure that you have a personal flotation device (PFD) or a life vest. It doesn’t matter which type of water you plan to paddle in, but keep in mind that anything can happen. The best way is to design and consider your safety as a priority. Without protection, you might end up severely hampered, especially if you have battling conditions that are against you.
Also, don’t practice the advanced skills that you not familiar with in kayaking. The process is slow and needs a step by step guide to upgrading fully.