Kayaking is a great pastime whether you are into fishing or boating or simply having some fun time. But, as fun as it sounds, it does come with a handful of risks. To ensure safety, you should always be prepared.
There are some safety gears that can make the difference between life and death. So, what are the safety equipment that is required in every kayak and canoe?
For a short answer, every kayak and canoe should have a sufficient number of PFDs or life jackets. Along with them, one should always carry communication devices or signaling gadgets.
A decent quantity of dry food and drinking water can be the most important element to allow a person to survive. Add some gauzes and antiseptic, and you should be able to survive just long enough to be rescued.
But you may not be able to carry everything on every journey. Besides that, not everything is required all the time.
When you assess the situation, you may potentially find yourself in and prepare; accordingly, you will not only be prepared but also have plenty of room for other valuables. It is not fun to travel stuffed with only the emergency items, is it?
Different equipment serves a different purpose and best suited in some sort of emergencies while being nothing more than a weight-to-carry in others. Let me break it down and explain what purpose what equipment serves, and which one is best utilized in what circumstances.
Must-Haves Of Kayaking
Even though a kayak is not exactly the same entity as a canoe, they are close enough. These items will be equally useful in both vessels. From the most important equipment to the least, is as follows:
Always Bring A PFD
Regardless of the location and duration of the tour, always carry a PFD. No excuses. PFD stands for Personal Floatation Device. This includes all sorts of floating jackets, vests, buoys, and all. Basically, you need to have something on you to keep you afloat if you happen to lose consciousness.
Now, depending on the location, weather, and distance from land, you will be better off having a different PFD on you. For example, if you are kayaking in a calm lake or other calm inland water bodies, you should wear a type 3 PFD, or life jacket, or something similar.
But when you are in the ocean, you almost have to wear a Type 1 PFD. They are designed specially to keep the head above water even when the person is unconscious. They usually have the highest buoyancy. But they are also the chunkiest and heaviest, making them inefficient for other locations.
Make your plan, do your research, and then decide which one will be best for your needs. Also, bring a PFD for everyone. No budget cuts.
Double-Check The Communication Devices
Having a second communication device is a must when boating a somewhat distance away from land/locals. I understand that you will always have your cellphone on you, and it is the best thing in the world, but still take a backup device with you.
This one will save your life at times when nothing else would. By communication device, I mean all sorts of stuff that can send or receive messages.
- Backup Radio
Having a radio transceiver is much more useful than saving a life. It will nonstop provide you with news of the shore, weather news, and other important updates. But the true potential of a transceiver is in the ability to send messages alongside receiving. You can communicate with the shore and even passing ships/vessels.
- Flair Guns Or Lights
These are some of the OGs in terms of communication over a long distance. When everything else fails, like your radios and phone getting wet, you can always shoot a flair to broadcast your location and hope that someone will notice.
A flashlight does the same thing at night. A whistle is an alternative if you are traversing through a canal in the midst of a thick forest. Do make sure to double-check the status of the devices that you will be bringing before departure.
Carry Ample Drinking Water And Dry Food
In case if the worst that could happen happens, then you need to be able to survive until help arrives. I am not making this up. It’s called murphy’s law. Go look that up. Anyway, with thousands upon thousands of people boating for whatever purpose every year, someone somewhere is bound to be the unlucky one.
If it happens to be you, you need to not-die. Being surrounded by water is an easy way to get sunburned and dehydrated. It is truer if you are offshore or even near the shore. As long as you can communicate with someone, help will arrive. Having even just a small supply can help you stay conscious a little longer, just enough to make it.
Pack Some Gauzes And Antiseptic
This one is arguably not a “must-have.” But to me, it is too useful not to mention. Both gauzes, or bandages and antiseptic creams are so lightweight that you won’t feel a difference between having them and not having them. Yet, they can prevent an infection, potentially lethal contamination.
Always make sure to pack some of these in a plastic bag and wrap the whole thing inside a waterproof sack. It is in human nature to cut or bruise themselves. Whether you be in a jungle or a lake, fishing, or racing, alone or with a gang, you are more likely to be injured in a way or another than not.
Most of the time, it does not matter, but what if the water is contaminated? You will never know until the symptoms show up.
Bring The Maps And Compass
A hard copy of the map is a convenient thing to have in hand. A sweeter alternative is a GPS. My personal choice is to take a fish-finder GPS combo. They will guide you throughout the journey when you are lost and even when you are not lost. You will feel the necessity of having a hard copy of the map if your device fails, or get wet, or the battery dies. And a compass is simply good to have.
Granted that a map is useless when you are traveling offshore, and there are no landmarks to pinpoint your location. But in other cases, it will help. Besides, you can always pinpoint your position by measuring the stars, and the constellations, and the clouds. That’s a quick way to have a taste of being a Christopher Columbus. Just kidding.
There is a handful of other equipment that is useful on any voyage. Kayaks and canoes are different from other boats in many ways. One of them is that these vessels are pretty dang small and limited. There’s only so much you can carry. However, these are the bare minimum that anyone should have on them at any time.
The PFD, the communication devices, food supplies, antiseptics, and maps are some of the most important stuff that can not only ensure that you survive but also let you seek help. Always make sure to have them on you, and make sure they are all functional, and you can hope to live another day and come back to tell an incredible story.