Kayaking is one of the most enjoyable, and relatively safe, recreational activities on the water. With any water activity though, it is imperative to be aware of what can go wrong and how to respond, as the situation can become very serious, very quickly. Understanding the associated hazards and risks that can come along with kayaking will help you make smart, conscious decisions when out on the water. Read on for a few general safety tips to keep in mind when kayaking.

Check the Weather

Before going out in the water, be aware of the weather conditions and water temperature. You’ll also want to check the tides and current conditions to help you plan where you will be paddling. Keep in mind that the weather may change and prepare for the possibility of a capsize.

Inform Someone of Your Plan

When going out on the water, let someone know your kayaking plan. Make sure they know where you are going, what you will be doing while out, how long your trip will be, and who will be accompanying you. Most importantly, stick to your plan.

Choose Your Clothing Wisely

Purchase clothing that is appropriate for the climate where you live. If you are paddling in cold water, capsizing into cold water can quickly result in hypothermia. Invest in a dry suit or wet suit to help you stay warm and comfortable. In warmer weather, a long sleeve shirt will help protect from the sun.

Bring Appropriate Provisions

Always refrain from drinking alcohol when paddling. Instead, make sure you have plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially on a hot summer day. Bring something to eat as well, as you will likely be on the water for a few hours.

Wear A Lifejacket

It is required by Coast Guard regulations to have a personal flotation device on board all kayaks. Wearing your lifejacket while out paddling will not only add insulation in cold water, but it will keep your head above water in the event you capsize. Make sure you purchase one that fits you well and always keep it on while paddling.