Know the waters where you'll be going and the expected weather. Have a map, chart and compass on board as well as a plan on where you will take your craft to shore. As an extra precaution, write down your route and when you plan to return and give it to someone who can make sure you return when expected and can call for help if you don't. Create an alternate route in case something diverts you from your initial plan.
Your canoe or kayak should be outfitted with a number of items before each trip. These include your paddle, throw ropes, a small knife or multipurpose tool, a small repair kit with duct tape, a bilge pump and throw bags with throw ropes. Emergency equipment includes a whistle, air horn or other sound-making device; flares; a small first aid kit; a survival blanket; and a flashlight. Optional equipment consists of a backup paddle, a GPS or other location device, cell phone if there is service in the area and dry bags to keep electronics safe from the water.
Always wear a personal flotation device, dress appropriately for the weather and bring a host of other necessary items. Pack enough food and water to sustain you longer than you expect to be gone, just in case of emergency. Also bring insect repellent, sunscreen, sunglasses with a buoyant strap, and hat or helmet. Pack extra clothes in a waterproof bag in case you capsize. Wear shoes that work in the water and on dry land in case you need to hike to safety.
Article Written By Ryn Gargulinski
Ryn Gargulinski is a writer, artist and performer whose journalism career began in 1991. Credits include two illustrated books, "Bony Yoga" and "Rats Incredible"; fitness, animal, crime, general news and features for various publications; and several awards. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature and folklore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in creative writing with a French minor from Brooklyn College.