Best 3 Safety Tips For Kayaking

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“Accidents can happen anytime.” Says Alistar Overeem who is a MMA fighter. It is true that accidents may happen, it’s just that it will never tell you when and how it will happen. On the bright side of things, accidents can be prevented, by preparing ourselves, observing kayaking safety rules and having backups, this way, we are able to stay safe while having fun kayaking. In this guide, we will be talking about the kayak safety and more.

This Safety Tips For Kayaking Guide will be split into a few sections, gears, basic rules and extras.

Let’s start with the gears.


Knowing what to bring is important, just like any sports, you need to at least bring a first aid kit which is an essential to almost every kind of activity.

Some things like beer bottles, razors, chemicals (Non medical use) should not be brought to the trip, people do forget about it and may put themselves into dangerous situations and maybe life-threatening situations.

With all that said, let’s get into the list.

Best Safety Tips For Kayaking

First-Aid Kit

As mentioned above, first-aid kits are an essential for any activity. First-aid kits are a toolbox to ease pain and to promote recovery, not to immediately heal any injury. A small bag with first-aid equipment is enough for the trip, depending on the amount of people, you might want to prepare a second one or more.

For first-aid kits, there are some important things to have in, whether it’s just a home type kit or a big one for sports, these first-aid kits must have these. 

Bandages, gauze and pads, adhesive tapes, elastic bandages, triangular bandages, tweezers, scissors, safety pins, antiseptic wipes, gloves, a pocket mask (for CPR use), First-Aid kit manual and emergency contact list. 

Bandages, elastic bandages and triangular bandages are different bandages and are used for different injuries.

When venturing into the wild, proper survival gear is absolutely necessary. These are the top 10 survival gears you need when you are outdoors. 

Two-way radio

In the event of getting lost, there are many ways to try to get help for example, using whistles, using a flare etc. One great way to get help is to use a two-way radio. These kinds of radios are the same ones you see construction workers use, and can save you from getting flares out immediately.

Get a list of radio frequencies with details of local services and other rescue services. Prepare a spare radio if one gets lost or broken while kayaking. Waterproof radios may be expensive, but it’s better to have a good quality one than a cheap one.

Floatation device

If you’ve ever been in a plane, you might have seen the instructions for a plane crash in water. The lifejacket is a flotation device. Flotation devices are an essential for any water sports and just any regular water based activity.

PFD or personal floatation devices are the most common type of flotation device, it is also known as a lifejacket. Another type of flotation device is a throwable device, which is the donut shaped float placed around specific locations of docks. 


Although mentioned above that radios are better to inform others about getting lost than flares, when it comes to your location, flares do a much better job to get help.

What are flares you may ask? Flares are a signalling device which emits bright light or intense heat without exploding. Flares can be categorised into handheld types and aerial types, and should be handled properly. Handheld flares are a stick like flare which can be placed on the ground too, on the other hand, aerial flares are most likely to be a flare gun. Both are useful to get help if lost.


Quite self-explanatory, it’s meant to prevent sunburns on the skin. Bringing sunscreen for all kayaking sessions isn’t necessary as some sessions are quite short and cool or maybe you have long sleeves. Getting some sunscreen isn’t that expensive, a local store can get you a reasonable price. Also ask your doctor if you have any skin conditions.


Headlamps are a big help for dark areas or at night. The name itself describes it, lamp at the head. Most headlamps are just the lamp with straps to stay on your head, while some are built into safety helmets. 

Just like sunscreen, it’s not essential for all conditions, still, it’s necessary for dark places like caves, thick jungles and kayaking at night.


Towlines or tow ropes are used for towing your kayaks to a certain spot. It comes in handy when you can’t get to shore and need help from a lending hand. Towlines can be used to get people and other items to shore if needed, just tie the rope from your boat to the target’s boat and you’re good to go.

Basic rules

Best Safety Tips For Kayaking

Kayaking rules are for everyone, and yet many people still break it. These kayaking safety tips are meant to keep us safe from danger and to keep things in order. These kayak safety tips to keep us safe from danger.


Always check on the weather conditions and water temperature. Prepare for sudden changes in weather and possibly capsize. If kayaking in cold water, wearing a wetsuit or drysuit can keep you warm and comfortable. If kayaking in warm weather, wear a long sleeve shirt to prevent sunburns.

Go In Groups

Go in groups as much as possible. For beginners, going solo on a kayaking session is very risky and can get lost easily, even experienced kayakers go in groups to keep an eye on each other and even to provide and get help when needed.


Invest in appropriate clothing for different climates. Using sit-in kayaks is helpful for blocking sunlight while sit-on kayaks expose you more to sunlight. Dress appropriately for the day.
[ Also Read: Our ultimate guide for the Best Sit-On-Top Kayaks For Camping ]


Be aware of off-shore winds as it makes it difficult to return to shore. If you’re planning to go on a windy day, check on the wind conditions and the weather forecast.
You may also want to check out when is a good time to kayak based on the currents and tides. [ Also Read: How Ocean Currents Work ]

[ Also Read: When Is a Good Time To Kayak Based On the Tides ]

Boating rules

Follow boating rules in the area you’re in. Not all boating rules are the same for all, especially the allowed places of the area. Many times, these restricted areas are dangerous to kayakers like heavy current rivers with rocks, or just restricted for property reasons.

Watch what you eat or drink

Never mix alcohol such as beer and gin or drugs (prescriptive or non-prescriptive) with boating. If on medication, consult your doctor for advice on kayaking.

Weight Limit

Never exceed the weight limit of your kayak as it may cause capsizing of the kayak and always check on tears and wear of your equipment before going on a session.

Learn the techniques of kayaking

Seek qualified instruction to learn proper paddling techniques, water safety and basic first aid. Finding a course may not be the most convenient thing, but it’s better to learn the skills.
Check out our detailed guide on Kayak Paddling Techniques if you are new to kayaking.

Self-rescue skills

Brush up your self-rescue skills in calm water, warm water, shallow water, then to even more extreme situations. Practise as much as possible and take it slow and steady. Rushing things may not get a good result.

Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

Always, and always wear your personal floatation device (PFD). Coast guard regulations require everyone to wear their PFD whether kayaking or just riding on a boat. PFD keeps the head above water to prevent drowning and serves as a good insulation in cold waters.

Inform someone

Inform someone, preferably family members, about your kayaking plan which includes: When will you go? Where are you going? What are you doing there? How long will you be there? Then stick to the plan.

Wear a helmet

Wear a helmet in places like surf zones and rivers which can be dangerous to kayakers.

Stay hydrated and bring food

Stay hydrated, bring plenty of water and food. Kayaking is a sport which takes up more energy, that’s why it’s necessary to bring more food and water. You can consider getting a Kayak Cooler to store your items. We have detailed recommendations on the Best Kayak Cooler if you do not have one yet.

Understand the situation

Is kayaking safe? When kayaking in a new area, ask the locals regarding currents, shoreline conditions and weather patterns. Plan an exit route which helps to get off the water when environmental conditions change.  Even better, try get a local to guide you on your first time there. 

Following these kayaking safety rules, makes kayaking a much more safe and fun experience for both new and experienced.


Capsizing escape

Capsizing is something a kayaker would not want to meet but it still happens. What if you can’t get the boat back up? It means that you need to escape from the kayak itself. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1:

Before capsizing, try to brace with your body, if not, release the spray skirt (if wearing one) from the kayak to not get you stuck.

Step 2:

Always keep calm. Try to get hold of your paddle as much as possible (don’t worry if you accidentally lose it, you can still try to retrieve it), next take a deep breath of air before you go underwater. Then lean forward towards the deck as if you’re kissing it, it makes escaping kayaks easier. [ Also Read: Check out our guide on How To Hold A Kayak Paddle Correctly. ]

Step 3:

When you’re underwater, get the spray skirt out first. Put your fingers around the cockpit’s coating and search for the grab loop and pull. After that, push yourself out from the cockpit as if you are pulling down a pair of pants. Keep the knees in and push yourself forward. Let the PFD do the rest later. 

That’s all for kayaking tips. I hope you can have a great kayaking experience while staying safe in the waters. Till next time.

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about Best Safety Tips For Kayaking or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

1 thought on “Best 3 Safety Tips For Kayaking”

  1. Thanks for pointing out that you must consider wearing a helmet when kayaking when going to dangerous areas. My husband and I are planning to rent a kayak with some of our friends to celebrate his 35th birthday. For sure, we will do your tips to ensure the safety of everyone that will attend the party.

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