Essential Kayaking Safety Tips

Kayaking is loads of fun, but like all water-based activities, it’s not without dangers. Whether you’re paddling across a calm pool or navigating rapids, there are safety protocols to follow at all times.

If you want to start kayaking, take a look at how you can stay safe in Dahlonega’s rivers.

1. Wear A Life Jacket

The single most important safety tip is to always wear a life jacket. According to the American Canoe Association, 85% of canoeing fatalities and 48% of kayaking fatalities were due to life jackets not being worn.

If the standard life jackets design makes paddling difficult or uncomfortable, look at a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or a jacket designed specifically for kayaking and canoeing. Make it a rule that you don’t get into your kayak if you don’t have a jacket or PFD.

2. Don’t Paddle When Intoxicated

Whether you’re kayaking on a calm stretch of water or a river with rapids that range between Class I and Class IV or higher, paddling when intoxicated is a no-no.

You need to be mentally and physically present on the water, and that’s not going to happen if you drink or use other intoxicants. If you want to relax with a beer in hand, wait until you’re safely back on the shore.

3. Wear A Helmet

Your life jacket is not the only essential piece of safety equipment you should wear when kayaking. A helmet is also crucial if you’re tackling any river with rapids.

One of the most popular sections on the Etowah River is between Highway 9 and Castleberry Bridge. Far from being a lazy stretch, it features shoals, Class I and II rapids, and the Class IV Etowah Falls. Experienced kayakers should only attempt the 8-foot-high falls. They can damage your kayak and cause injury if you don’t know what you’re doing.

A helmet is a must in this case, and in any other scenario where there are rocks or rapids on course.

4. Follow Boating Rules

Given Dahlonega’s rivers’ popularity, there’s a good chance that you won’t be paddling alone very often. To keep everyone safe, following the basic boating rules is advisable.

In addition to a life jacket and helmet, wearing bright clothing to enhance your visibility will ensure you’re easy to spot. Sticking reflective tape on your paddles is also advised, as is having a whistle handy in case you need to signal for assistance.

5. Share Your Itinerary

Whether you’re going kayaking alone or with a group, always share your itinerary with someone you trust. Let them know where you are going, how long you think you’ll be gone for, and who you’re going with. If you’re camping too, let the person know which campsites you’ll be staying at and when you plan to return. Should you not return when intended, they can raise the alarm and will know where to direct rescue personnel to, if necessary.

These are just a few kayaking safety tips that could save your life. No matter how tempting it is to do otherwise, always put safety first.

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