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Group Kayaking: 13 Tips to Keep Everyone Safe

Kayaking is a great water sports activity; more people have been engaging in it in recent years. It’s a fun activity to indulge in with family or a group of friends. While spending time out in the water is exhilarating, accidents may happen. Ensure that everyone has had practice and is well-trained in kayaking. Lastly, ensure that every member of your group follows the safety tips discussed below.

 

13 Group Kayaking Safety Tips

If you plan on going kayaking with a group, ensure that these safety tips are adhered to. They will go a long way in keeping you all safe while you have fun.

 

  • Choose the Right Kayak

You must choose the right kayak. This will mostly depend on where you are going to explore, the number of people, and the sitting position. Considering that you are going as a group, you can choose a 3 seater kayak, especially if you paddle long distances. This will ensure that you get to take a breather, as it can be quite exhausting for your arms and body.

 

  • Servicing Your Kayak

Before heading out into the water, ensure that every member of your group has had their kayak serviced. This includes washing the inside and ensuring that every moving part, such as the foot braces and rudders, are cleansed and rinsed to prevent jamming.

You must also inspect each other’s kayaks thoroughly before your trip to ensure that necessary repairs have been done. This guarantees a fun, enjoyable, and safe kayaking experience for everyone.

 

  • Weather Conditions

Before setting out, you must be aware of the current weather conditions, the forecast, and the water temperature. Plan by checking the weather forecast before your kayaking trip to avoid being caught off-guard.

If the water temperature is cold, wear a wet or dry suit to keep you warm. And if the water is warm, wear a long-sleeved shirt to protect your body from UV rays.

 

  • Clothing

When going kayaking as a group, ensure everyone is wearing the right clothing for the water. Your clothing will also depend on whether you use a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak. Note that a sit-in kayak protects from wind and water. However, you will have difficulty getting back in if you flip.

Polarized glasses: Don’t forget to wear them as they protect your eyes from the sun’s glare on the water.

Hat: Wear a hat to protect your face and neck from the sun.

Sunscreen: While wearing protective clothing will help, remind everyone in your group to apply sunscreen.

Wet or dry suit: It might be warm, but the water is cold, so wear a wet or dry suit. And remember to layer up so that you can adjust if the weather changes.

 

  • Location

Where are you going kayaking? Certainly, Banff is one of the best places in Canada for it but you need to pick the best time to visit Banff. But there are many other places to choose from. 

If you are a beginner, it would be best to remain in areas where the water is calm; however, if you and your group are more experienced, you might go to rivers with strong tides and currents. 

If you have limited water current knowledge, you had better do your research to avoid running in circles. Paddling with the current makes kayaking pretty easy and may even seem effortless. However, paddling against the current will require a lot of energy and can be very exhausting.

 

  • Plan Your Route

After selecting your kayaking location, map out the route you will take. When doing this, consider your group’s skill levels and ensure it’s a route everyone can navigate. Make sure to carry a compass along to guide you.

Kayakers are advised to stick to areas within reach of the shore for easy swimming in case of an accident. Ensure that someone on dry land knows where you are kayaking when you’ll be out, and who is on the team.

 

  • Life Jacket

Whether you are going out into the water for 30 minutes or an hour, it is a rule that everybody must wear a life jacket. It helps you keep your head above water if your kayak capsizes. It also acts as an added layer of insulation against cold.

Don’t borrow your friend’s life jacket; get your own and ensure it fits perfectly. A well-fitting life jacket ensures you are comfortable when paddling, and it will not slip off when you fall into the water.

 

  • Kayaking Skill Level

Apart from choosing an appropriate location, you must be in tune with your skills. This will help you determine what you are capable of handling. When launching, starting from a flat area such as a bay, lake shores, or a river without currents is best. And as you advance, you can venture into rougher areas.

A general kayaking rule is to ensure that you can swim before venturing into the water, especially in areas not protected from wind and waves. Also, you are required to take self-rescue training. The training will come in handy if your kayak capsizes and no one is around to assist.

 

  • Means of Communication

Talking is a hassle when out in the water as the tides and currents swallow your voice. Learning all the basic signals to communicate with your group would be best. Means of communication vary from group to group. Some opt to use hand signals and whistles.

A flashlight is also essential if you stay out longer than anticipated. It also notifies your group members of your location.

Some groups use VHF radios, which is by far the most effective mode of communication. You need to discuss amongst yourselves which channel to use.

 

  • Self-Rescue Training

Every kayak beginner is required to take a self-rescuing class to ensure that they can save themself in case the kayak capsizes. That’s why you must know how to swim and wear a life jacket to help you stay afloat as you try to climb back into your kayak.

 

  • Food and Water

If you plan on being out in the water for an extended period, carry snacks and plenty of water. Bring snacks that are high in protein to provide you with much-needed paddling energy. The water will ensure you stay hydrated throughout your trip.

 

  • Don’t Steer Away from Your Group

When kayaking as a group, do not steer away from your team as you may encounter dangerous situations, such as capsizing or being trapped in a mesh of logs. You should work as a team and move together for everyone’s safety.

 

  • Safety Gear

Ensure that each of your members has packed safety gear in their kayak. This will guarantee that your team has an enjoyable and safe trip. Some of these items include:

Flotation bags: these bags help reduce the water that collects in your kayak, thus preventing them from sinking when you capsize.

Sponsons: these are inflatable devices attached to each side of your kayak for flotation purposes.

Spray Skirts: these are barriers erected on your kayak to prevent water from waves and rain from getting into your kayak. They are found on sit-in kayaks, and it covers the area between your waist and cockpit. They are suitable in areas where there are strong tides and currents. However, you don’t need them in calm water.

They ensure that your lower body and other items in your kayak do not get soaked with water.

First-Aid kits: Every group must carry a first-aid kit. You can get paddling first-aid kits from a water sports store or you can make them yourself. The kit should be stored in a waterproof bag and kept in a place that is easily accessible.

Paddle float: This is essential if you are kayaking alone. A paddle float will help you re-enter your kayak after capsizing. You can get a foam or inflatable paddle float.

Bilge pumps: After capsizing and re-entering your kayak, water will have collected inside. Use a bilge pump to remove the water.

Tow lines: Accidents can happen while out in the water, and as a group, you must assist your team member back ashore. You can do this using tow lines. One end of the tow line is attached to the towed kayak and the other to the towing paddler’s waist or cockpit rim.

Paddle leashes: These come in handy if you capsize as they prevent your paddles from being swept away by the waves. The leashes are elastic cords attached to the kayak and the paddles.

Check what type of first-aid and kayaking gear you need before your trip.

 

Final Thoughts

Kayaking is a fun water sports activity that can be done alone or with a group of friends. For everyone’s safety, ensure that each member of your group adheres to these tips, from wearing a life jacket, right kayaking clothes, and kayaking gear, to carrying a first aid kit in case of emergencies.  

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