Heading out into the open water of the sea, or pushing off into a lake or river can be a memorable experience, but can it be for the wrong reasons? Any sport comes with its hazards so it is always a good idea to learn how to do it properly, and to stay safe.

So, what are some of the dangers of kayaking? The water alone is an unforgiving place but we’re going to take a look at some of the main reasons, this activity is best done properly. The following are some of the ways that kayaking can be dangerous.

The Conditions

A lot of what seems to be dangerous can be different depending on who you ask. So the association itself is up for debate when it comes to most water sports. The conditions of kayaking can make it dangerous or as safe as one could hope it to be. A serene, still water such as a recreational lake is going to have a lower risk of danger than that of a choppy sea or certain types of rapids. The thrill of such activities is why a lot of people enjoy them, which is why some people look for this over a calm paddle.

No Lifejacket

If an activity is best enjoyed with a lifejacket, then this is always the best way to hit the water. When it comes to wearing a life jacket, some people forget, whilst others just think they do not need one.

Even the improper use of a lifejacket can be dangerous as it won’t be as effective when it is on. A large portion of injuries and accidents leading to death on the water could be avoided by wearing a life jacket. It should be secured snug without pinching and be fastened properly before setting off.

Cold Water

The likes of hyperthermia can be a real danger if kayaking in cold waters. It is not uncommon for a kayaker to suffer from cold shock after falling into the freeze which is where a life jacket can only do so much to help. The sudden shock of the cold can cause your body to struggle for breath from the moment you hit the water, even impacting how you breathe. Because of this, it is always a good idea to test the water before you go.

Heat Stroke

Anything related to the sun such as sunburn, exhaustion, and dehydration can all be dangerous when you are having fun on the water. Kayaking in the peak sun hours of the warmer months is not a sensible idea, nor is neglecting sun cream or protective clothing.

Sometimes the fun can be too distracting and one might not realize they are suffering from the above until it is too late. Because sunlight will reflect on the water, the impact on the skin is going to be worse than usual.

Objects In The Water

Some objects in a flowing river can be there to ensure that water and small objects such as debris can flow through, but not the likes of people and rocks. These strainers can be dangerous as they can cause someone to become trapped, especially if the water is pushing them under.

They are man-made by either the likes of gates or branches. It is also important to be wary of fallen trees that are still attached to their roots. Otherwise known as sweepers, they can be hazardous in a similar way. Other objects include rocks underwater that trap debris, but also humans. These are common in areas with strong rapids and can seem to appear out of nowhere.

Kayaking Alone

Although it can be hard to find someone to go with at times, a kayak is always much safer with someone else around. This means you can get back onto a kayak easier, be taken to safety, or there is just someone around to call for help should you need it. It is also useful as if you are running low on supplies or taking extra, there is someone to share the load.

Inexperienced Swimmer/Kayaker

One of the dangers that do not mix well with water is an inexperienced swimmer. Even with a lifejacket, not knowing how to return to safety or get back onto a capsized kayak can be dangerous.

This is why it is important to learn to swim before you paddle. Also, get to know the main strokes and safety advice that comes with kayaking. Before hitting the rapids, no matter how fast, consider developing your skills and stamina on a flat lake.

The Weather

Kayaking during or at the sign of a storm is never a good idea. Some rain might not be a good enough reason to head back for shore, but at the first sign of thunder or lightning, it is best to make your way to safety. Checking the weather forecast before planning a kayak is also a good idea.

Boats On The Water

When kayaking in the sea or on a lake, you might not be as visible as you think. A boat is coming from a loftier position which can mean that unless the person in charge is paying attention, you could be difficult to spot.

Even a jet ski can be a danger to a kayaker and out of all the other watersports out there, a kayak is going to come off worse. Wearing high visibility clothing is important in this situation, giving you the best possible chance of being seen.

How To Avoid The Dangers Of Kayaking

Basically, adhering to the above is going to go a long way towards your safety on the water. Therefore, keeping plenty of fluids on board can help to avoid dehydration and exhaustion, wearing protective clothing and plenty of sun cream will help too.

Also, be wary of when the peak sunlight hours are so you can kayak either side to stay safe. Always wear a life jacket, ensuring it is fastened correctly. When it comes to objects in the water – avoid them as best you can. Strainers and sweepers are difficult to negotiate after and can be fatal. Be sure to stick to the waters that are relevant for your experience level and always try to hit the water with a companion.