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What Should You Not Do While Kayaking?

Hey, we’re all about keeping it positive, but sometimes a nice simple “no” can do the trick. It is concise, straight-forward, and cuts to the chase. With that said, here are a few “don’ts” that can lead you to be more positive about kayaking safely!


Don’t mix alcohol & drugs with kayaking

This should really go without saying but keep the party to the shore. Stats show time and again that drinking/drugs combined with water sports are NOT a good mix. Your likelihood of death increases by a multiple of ten when you mix kayaking/water activities with drinking. As reported by the BMJ (British Medical Journal), alcohol played a role in 30-70% of cases of those who drown during recreational water activity.

Don’t be a statistic. Kayak smarter and leave the booze behind.


Don’t exceed the weight capacity of your kayak

In order to be successful at this step, you need to know the weight capacity of your vessel. But just knowing it, isn’t enough. Once you start adding gear, snacks, and miscellaneous items, your craft can get weighed down quickly. And if you think you’re going to add passengers or pets, take that into account as well.

This is important so that you don’t risk the structural integrity of your vessel - and also your energy limits.


Don’t kayak during a extreme weather conditions

If you’ve planned and prepped and patiently waited for a kayak trip, it can be a real downer if mother nature wrecks your plans. But while it might be tempting to brave the waves, it is smarter to stay on shore during extreme weather conditions.

Don’t paddle. . .

. . . in high winds

. . . extreme temperatures

. . . fog

. . . thunderstorms

. . . large swells

When the weather is miserable, you are likely to be as well. Let mother nature rage, while you stay safe (and comfortable) on shore.


Don’t kayak at night without lights

Nightime kayaking comes with some inherent risks. Visibility being number one: you can’t see others and they can’t see you. The danger of collisions is higher and so is getting lost. If you must kayak at night, make sure that you carry the proper lighting. Make yourself as visible as possible.

Be seen! Don’t kayak without illumination. It isn’t a bright idea (sorry, couldn’t resist).


Don’t exceed your kayaking experience/capabilities or paddle to impress others

Here’s a two-for-one “don’t”! Be a smart kayaker. Know your limits. You don’t want to paddle until your strength runs out and find you can’t get back. Or get yourself in a pickle that you can’t get out of. And don’t let peer pressure or a desire to impress others cause you to make poor choices. If you are kayaking with a group, make sure to discuss experience levels and expectations before you set out.

It is good to challenge yourself within reasonable limits. But don’t go overboard and regret it.


Don’t forget your life jacket (PFD) while kayaking

Yes, you do need to wear a PFD when kayaking. The good thing is that today’s options are vastly more stylish and comfortable than decades past, so don’t even try to use that reasoning. Find a reputable, well-fitted personal flotation device and make it a natural part of every kayaking adventure. If an accident happens, you don’t have time (or hands) to spare putting on that lifejacket that you brought “just in case”.

Just wear it!


Don’t neglect sunscreen (even in fall/winter) when kayaking

When kayaking, sun protection is important all year round. Just because the weather has cooled off doesn’t mean that the UV rays take a break. You can still get burned on a clear, cool or even overcast day. If you are going out of doors for any length of time, it is important to use protection against the sun’s rays. A wide-brimmed hat and application of sunscreen can go a long way. Also, consider other protective clothing like long sleeves/pants.

Respect the power of the sun’s rays and stay protected.


Don’t panic

So, you’ve done all you can to avoid disaster, but it still finds you. Here is our last “don’t”. Dear paddler, don’t panic. Take a deep breath (metaphoically if not practically), try to calm your heart and mind, and then act. Hopefully, muscle memory and practice will take over. It is for moments like these that you practice self-rescue & capsize techniques.

Easier said than done, but keeping a clear head can go a long way to getting you out of a jam.

Sometimes negatives can result in something positive! Be smart on the water and you can have many fun-filled days of kayaking to look forward to. 


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