Personal responsibility is the first rule of safety according to the American Whitewater Association. This means knowing how to swim and how to handle your kayak, which comes from practicing drills like Eskimo rolls and safe entry and exits.
Wear Correct Gear
At the bare minimum a paddler is required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD). If you are paddling a sit-in kayak, you also need a spray skirt to keep cold water out as well as correct clothing for immersion in cold water, just in case.
Never Paddle Alone
Paddlers are strongly discouraged from paddling alone. If you run into trouble, you need to have someone there who can help. In addition, always leave a float plan (see Resources) with someone at home.
Check the Weather
Always check the weather before putting out. Check current wind speeds and water conditions. Know the water you are paddling. If this is a new spot then consult with paddlers about local weather/water conditions.
Food & Drink
Even if you don't think you'll need it, it's important to pack extra food and drink. Dehydration occurs very quickly. To combat dehydration pack drinks with electrolytes and high-energy food bars.
Article Written By Shiromi Nassreen
Shiromi Nassreen has been writing professionally since 2005. She specializes in travel and outdoor topics, and her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "DISfunkshion Magazine" and Matador Travel. Nassreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies from Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama.