Brushing Up on Kayaking Safety Before LagoonFest 2018

FAST FACTS

  • 245 people were killed as a result of kayaking or kayak accidents in 2017.
  • 122 of these victims drowned.
  • 107 people were injured in kayaks or kayak accidents.

As boat accident lawyers in West Palm Beach, we know the draw of the beautiful coastal and inland waterways in our state. Florida’s weather almost demands that people spend relaxing days aboard their vessel. Among the many events and festivals centered around the water in Florida is LagoonFest, held on November 3 this year.

The event is free to the public and features demonstrations, kayak clean-up tours, exhibitor booths a KidZone and so much more! It’s a great way to spend a Saturday at Lake Worth Lagoon, and is sure to draw a crowd this year.

Events like this remind us that kayaking has become incredibly popular in our state and others. Taking the time to brush up kayaking safety before participating in any type of event is essential. It’s just as important if you are going to be spending a lazy afternoon on the water all alone.

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Know the Trail

Don’t make the rookie mistake of throwing your kayak into the first body of water you see and paddling off. You should know the body of water that you’ll be traversing. You don’t have to know it like the back of your hand, but you should know how long it is, where it will go, and whether there are any known hazards.

Once you’ve studied the water, you’ll be able to better prepare for your trip. Create a float plan and share it with friends and family. Bring along any safety gear you may need based on the water, and dress for the possibility of immersion. Above all: Don’t go on your own. Kayaking is fun and boats are made for one, but it is not something that should be done without a buddy.

Know What You Can Do

Another newbie mistake is to jump right in and go, despite never having sat their bottom in a kayak. Don’t do this; it could be a fatal mistake. Kayaks are not toys and need to be taken seriously. It’s always a good idea to take a class when you are learning how to maneuver these small vessels. At a minimum, you should learn how to do a wet exit. Better still is to learn how to do a self rescue and a T-rescue.

When you are planning your trip, consider the following:

  • The movement of the water: Calm is for beginners, rapids are for experts.
  • The size of the water: Stick to small ponds if you’re new.
  • Crowd size: If you’re new, look for waterways that attract the most boaters. The more people on the water, the more that can help you if you get in trouble.
  • Shoreline: When you are starting out, look for water that will keep you close to the shoreline.

Necessary Safety Gear

Whether you are new to kayaking or an old hat, it’s important to remember that it’s a sport and requires safety gear. Forget your gear at home and you could very well experience an emergency situation that you can’t get out of. Here are the essentials.

1) Personal flotation device: it should always be on, never sitting in your backpack or the bottom of the kayak.

2) Whistle: attach it to your lifevest. Blow it once if you need attention and three times if you need help.

3) Communication Device: don’t count on your cell phone if you are in a remote area. You may need to bring a walkie-talkie for you and your kayaking partner.

4) Bilge Pump

5) Spare Paddle

6) Paddle Float

7) Towline: think of a towline as you would jumper cables for your vehicle. A towline can help bring you back to shore when you’ve lost your paddles or are exhausted. Likewise, you can toss your line to another boater if they need a hand.

8) Headlamp: in case you get caught in the dark.

What to Wear

Knowing what to wear can make a difference in your comfort and in your ability to survive should you be plunged into the water. If you are going to be in a cool zone, you’ll need a wetsuit or drysuit. If you’re in a warm zone, you’ll want to wear fabrics that are labeled as quick-dry.

To determine your best outfit, take a look at water temperature and add it to the air temperature. If both combined are over 120 degrees, you can stick to quick-dry fabrics. If the water is under 60 degrees, at any time, you’ll want to wear a wetsuit for sure.

Avoiding Collisions

Think of yourself in a kayak on the water as you would on a bicycle on a street. Don’t count on others to see you and know that you are the one most likely to be injured if you collide with a larger vessel. Your best move is to avoid a collision in the first place.

Pay attention to where other vessels are located and steer your away from them. If a boat is coming up behind you, keep an eye on it. If steering doesn’t help you, you can stop your kayak and let the more powerful boat maneuver away.

Our West Palm Beach Boat Accident Attorneys are Here for You

A day on the water should end as pleasantly as it starts. Use the tips above to stay safe on the water. If you happen to be in a crash and suffer injuries, reach out to the West Palm Beach boat accident lawyers at Steinger, Greene & Feiner for help. We are here for you and will defend your rights in court. Your first case evaluation will be held at no cost to you. We’re open 24/7, because justice never sleeps.