A day on the lake is refreshing, fun, and a perfect way to beat the heat waves. Before you seek refuge in your boat or kayak, get prepared and freshen up on your water safety knowledge. Be ready for the sun, water conditions, and a potential accident with these safety tips for kayaks and boats.
- Know Your Stuff– Make sure to take an on-water course before you head out to the lake. During the course, you will learn how to handle your kayak or boat and the rules of the water, as well as develop your safety skills. This knowledge may come in handy if you find yourself in an accident this summer. In 2015, the US Coast Guard counted 4,158 recreational boating accidents that involved 626 deaths, 2,613 injuries and approximately $42 million dollars of property damage. Protect your life and property by taking a 101 course.
- Suit Up– Are you wearing the correct gear for kayaking? If you’re planning to be on the water in the early morning or after dusk, it is especially important to wear brightly colored clothing, so other boaters and kayakers can see you in the dim light. Keep your PFD, personal flotation device, or life jacket on yourself and the kids at all times.
- Protect Your Skin– We know it’s a given, but sun protection is essential for a long day outside. The fresh air may feel nice, but having a sunburn the next day won’t be as welcome. Sunscreen and a hat will keep your skin safe from the harmful rays. Don’t forget to reapply the sunscreen every few hours for maximum protection.
- Check the Temperature– Cold water can be extremely dangerous! Even water in the 50-60 degree Fahrenheit range can initiate “Cold Water Shock.” Should you fall overboard, the sudden change in temperature can cause your body to increase your heart rate and blood pressure, potentially leading to cardiac arrest. Aside from water temperature, watch your local news to stay up-to-date on weather conditions. Rain or thunderstorms, rough winds, or a drop in temperatures can be a sign to hang up your paddle for the day and reschedule your lake trip.
- File a Float Plan– If an emergency were to occur, it’s always best to be on the safe side and have someone on shore know all important details. If this information is written down, emergency searchers will know where, when, and who to look for. What should you note? Make sure to include the name, address, and phone number of the trip leader, name and number of any passengers, kayak or boat description with registration information, and a trip itinerary. Leave your float plan with someone on shore, whether that be a family member, friend, or staff member at the local marina.
- Communication is Key– Brush up on your universal river signals, so you can communicate with others on the water. If you only remember three, make sure to know how to signal for “stop”, “emergency”, and “all clear.” A whistle can also come in handy to communicate to other boats or kayaks.
- Recognize & Avoid Hazards– Be familiar with traps that could endanger you and your crew. For kayakers, avoid trees, branches, other strainers, rocks, and low-head dams. It’s key to backwash in hydraulics and stay on the inside of the bends. For boaters, avoid strainers at all costs, be cautious around any bridge or contruction, and stay clear of fences and low power lines. Be especially cautious in boat marinas, as electrical appliances can leak voltage into the water causing death by Electric Shock Drowning, or ESD.
Whether with friends, family or the kids, make sure everyone returns home from your day on the water safe and sound. While a day on the lake is fun, a big dinner around the table with those you love is the icing on the cake.
For additional help finding all the equipment you’ll need for a day on the water, visit your friendly associates at your local Big R store.