Scared to go kayaking? Don’t be. It’s true that kayaking accidents do happen. However, only those who are careless enough are the ones involved in accidents.
Kayaking wouldn’t have become popular if it were very dangerous. In fact, a kayaking excursion is just as fun as a road trip with a bicycle or motorbike. Don’t think about some safety issues that you’ll encounter, and you’ll discover the peerless fun that kayaking brings—scenic sights of trees, meadows, or coastlines, a good tan, and a breezy cruise.
Nevertheless, being scared with kayaking like a chicken is fine if you have experienced some watercraft-related accidents before. Allow this article to calm your nerves by discussing wh kayaking isn’t as dangerous as you think.
Is Kayaking Dangerous
How Dangerous is Kayaking?
Kayaking, similar to other water activities, isn’t perfectly safe. Collisions, flip overs, deflation (in case of inflatable kayaks), and maneuverability issues are some of the perils involved with kayaking.
But know that enjoying the kayak is relatively safer than your everyday safari tour and sky jumping sessions. So, please stop being paranoid about it. Load your kayak on the car and head to a kayaking location now. Don’t waste your day doing nothing at home.
Probability of Accidents and Injuries When Kayaking
Accidents that lead to mortal and minor injuries are rare when it comes to kayaking. There’s only a 2.1%–2.9% chance for kayaking-related accidents to happen. This is pretty low compared to other water sports such as surfing, scuba diving, and shark cage diving.
Speaking of injuries, how do experts classify kayaking-related ones? Experts classify injuries that people experience while kayaking as trauma from striking an object, traumatic bodily stress due to the rider’s positioning with respect to the current, overuse injuries, and submersion and environmental injuries.
Blisters on the hands is the most common injury while kayaking. These aren’t serious. However, blisters can affect maneuverability since the hands are greatly involved when controlling the kayak.
Injuries on the shoulders are as common as blisters. These are due to incorrect riding position and the use of paddles that don’t suit the torso length of the paddler.
In connection, the shoulders together with the wrist often suffer from chronic injuries due to kayaking. Shoulder and wrist injuries in kayaking are usually characterized by short stabbing pains, loss of grip strength, and swelling (especially the wrists).
An ultimate concern for those who are afraid of kayaking is when the kayak flips over. This is a topic that needs a more in-depth discussion. To learn more, proceed to the section below.
Do Kayaks Flip Over Easily?
Answering this question with a yes or no is impossible. Being prone to flipping is largely dependent on whether the kayak is inflatable or hardshell—simply put, the type. Moreover, dimensions and design is other factors that determine it too.
Inflatable kayaks, if not inflated well, flips over easily. If not bloated with enough air, these kayaks are nothing but flimsy. They can’t displace the surface area of the water well and becomes wobbly, which could result in flipping over.
Hardshell kayaks don’t flip, not unless you exceed their weight limit. That’s why it’s important to take note of weight capacity when you’re buying hardshell kayaks. For a recommendation, it’s best to buy a hardshell kayak that has a minimum weight capacity of 100 pounds.
Dimensions affect the susceptibility of the kayak to flipping over. It’s common knowledge to seasoned kayak owners that wide kayaks don’t flip over easily, and narrow ones don’t think twice about turning from their bottoms with the slightest sway or juggle.
However, this isn’t the case for slimly or narrowly designed kayaks all the time. Some kayaks that aren’t wide still display perfect balance hulls, which may be installed with a keel or a skeg. If you’re buying a streamlined kayak, ask the seller if it comes with these.
Why Does a Kayak Flip?
Inflatable kayak flips due to the lack of air in their chambers. Lack of air on their chambers might be due to punctures or poor design of the air insertion valve.
Improper riding cause flipping over in the case of tandem kayaks. A probable reason is that the riders’ weight might be unevenly distributed in the cockpit.
Rocking the kayak causes flipping too. A slight elevation of the bow or stern up in the air can disturb the weight distribution on the kayak.
If your kayak has a skeg and keel, don’t even plan on removing them, even if they’re detachable. The skeg and keel are integral for kayaks that have them. If they’re removed, the kayak will suddenly get wobbly and less responsive to directional changes.
Installing a motor that’s too strong for the kayak can cause flipping. Note that this is only applicable for kayaks that are already installed or can be installed with motors. The kayak flips over if ever the torque of the motor causes the kayak to digs its stern on the water and raise its bow.
What to Do if the Kayak Flips?
It’s not the end of the world of the kayak flips, so remain calm. A kayak that flipped won’t sink, and it won’t drag you under the water. That’s said, avoid panicking because you’re all good.
Dive and swim deep as soon as you realize that the kayak is starting to flip. You have to swim deep so that the kayak won’t hit your head when it flips over. It’s crucial to remember this tip if you’re using a hardshell kayak. A flipping hardshell kayak is durable enough to wound your head if it hits.
What if you’re not a strong swimmer? Assuming that you’re wearing a life vest, cover your head with the hands as soon as the kayak flips over. By doing so, the cockpit of the kayak will hit the hands instead of the head. It’s better for the hands to get injured because you don’t want to suffer head injuries and get dizzy. Dizziness will make it impossible for you to ask for help or make your way toward the bank.
If you have a whistle with you, blow it with all your mouth to inform someone that you’re in trouble. Lifeguards are patrolling around kayaking locations, so rest assured that somebody will always come to help you.
But you’re on your own if you’re kayaking in a location where no other people are around to help. In this situation, it’s better to leave the kayak and head to the bank or get back to riding it.
The second option requires skill on your part. Proceed to the next section to teach yourself how to get back on a kayak that flipped over.
How Unflip a Kayak?
Unflipping a light kayak is very easy. All you have to do is push one of its sides upwards so that it returns to its original position. You may use your paddle if your arms are too weak to do the job.
A heavy kayak requires more work to get unflipped. To unflip it, you have to rock one of the sides with increasing intensity. You have to involve your body weight while rocking it aside from your arm strength.
How to Get into Kayak after Falling Out?
Falling out of the kayak is another problematic situation that you have to anticipate. Fortunately, it’s not as dire as flipping over because the kayak is still floating fine.
The first thing to do if you fall out of the kayak is to swim toward it. If the rapids are strong, just let the current take you to the kayak. Conserve your energy because you will need it to haul yourself.
Once you’re near the kayak, go to the side nearest to you. After that, grab the other side that’s adjacent to it. You don’t want to grab the side that’s in front because doing so will cause the kayak to flip over.
When you successfully grabbed the adjacent side, slowly pull yourself back to the kayak’s cockpit. Wiggle your body, brush your knees on the side of the hull, or flex your arms—do anything that will help your torso lift back up toward the kayak.
Everything easier if the kayak has a rope or grooves on its sides. The rope and the grooves make it easier for you to get into the kayak after falling out because they accommodate your hands and arms, which is something that you badly need to haul yourself up quickly.
How to Get Water out of a Kayak Hull?
Most kayaks already have a self-bailing mechanism. This feature will remove the water out of the kayak hull for you. Still, it can malfunction. That’s why you have to keep a close watch when this happens.
If the self-bailing mechanism fails and the kayak hull starts to get filled with water, use your hands to scoop the water out. This method is already useful if the entrance of the water to the kayak hull isn’t strong.
On the other hand, if the water is entering fast, use any container that you have with you to keep the water out. Even a piece of flat plastic will do. What’s important is that the tool that you will use has to efficiently scoop most of the water that penetrates the hull.
But know that instead of getting the water out of the kayak hull, it’s better to make your way towards the bank. Water entering the hull means that your kayak will sink anytime soon.
How to Keep a Kayak from Sinking?
Keeping the kayak from sinking is easy. Be sure that you’re not exceeding its weight capacity, check for holes and cracks on its hull, and if there are any, seal them with a patching kit or epoxy, and avoid rapids that the kayak is unsuitable for.
You can’t stop a kayak once it starts to sink. There’s no going around with this problem. However, this doesn’t mean that you’re done for. Though stopping it is impossible, you may delay it nonetheless.
Throw unnecessary objects out of the kayak. By throwing them, you are decreasing the weight that the kayak is carrying. If weight is decreased, the kayak can float for 5 to 10 minutes before sinking—enough duration for you to get back on land.
How to Get into a Sit-On-Top Kayak from a Dock Safely?
Follow these steps to get into a sit-on-top kayak from a dock:
- Get a rope and tie one its end on the sit on top kayak
- Tie on the other end of the rope into the poles or pillars on the dock
- Be sure to tie the rope short and tight
- Ask someone to hold the rope for you to prevent the sit-on-top kayak from wobbling
- Place one of your legs on the cockpit of the sit-on-top kayak. Secure your footing and follow to placing your other legs on the cockpit
- Sit on the kayak seat, place the paddles on the paddle, and you’re good to go
What is the Best Way to Get in and out of the Kayak?
The best way to get in and out of the kayak is to do it in the most shallow part of the river, lake, or near to you. Getting in and out in shallow waters is better than getting in and out with the help of a dock because you may hold the kayak to keep it steady.
What Equipment to Use to Stay Safe on the Kayak?
Bright colored clothing, carbon fiber paddle with rubber-coated handle, whistle, kayak helmet, and elbow and knee pads ensure your safety while kayaking.
Brightly colored clothing and a whistle allow other people in the kayaking location to notice your presence without fail. This equipment prevents collisions and is very useful if ever you are in need of rescue.
A carbon fiber kayak paddle with a rubber-coated handle is great for leaning against rocks and other obstacles for evasive maneuvers. Carbon fiber paddle is light on the arms, so it doesn’t deal with your shoulders and harms overuse injuries. On the other hand, its rubber-coated handle won’t blister your hands.
Kayak helmet and elbow and knee pads ensure that you don’t injure your limbs and head. It’s common for these body parts to get bruised, sliced, or fractured in case you fall off of the kayak or in case the kayak flips over.