Kayaking can be amazing, it is one of the best water sports out there. It can be super thrilling or super relaxing depending on how you tend to enjoy it and what waters you take your kayak out onto. 

You can find fish when kayaking, adventure places not available by foot or even bicycle. However, many tend to have some misconceptions about safety when it comes to kayaking. 

We don’t always immediately think of it as a dangerous sport, but it can be. It might not always be, but one mistake, and you can find yourself in trouble. 

Kayaking is dangerous, there are some natural risks, but you shouldn’t get scared, just remember to be vigilant and remember that you need to keep your wits about you.

Top Risks

Let’s understand what the risks are. Some things are real risks, and others are only perceived risks. You should know the difference. A perceived risk is all about how it seems, but the actual danger is the real risk. 

Consider those who have a fear of heights, tall places would be a perceived risk, but those who scuba dive into the deep face real risks.

1. Drowning 

This is probably a risk that you have guessed by now. Any water based activity comes with the risk of drowning. It is pretty obvious. 

Even if you are a good swimmer, you can be at risk. Of course, it depends on where you are kayaking as well. This does not mean that if you cannot swim you cannot go kayaking, it is not a requirement, however, it is an advantage in case you end up in a tricky situation. 

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Even if you are a strong swimmer, you could still drown if you are in unfriendly waters. 

You can prevent drowning by always wearing a life vest, doing capsize drills and self-rescue training. You should also know how to minimise fear so you do not panic and regain control with more ease. 

2. Hypothermia

Cold waters seem just fine when you are all cozy in your kayak, however, it can prey on you if you are unsuspecting. If you get suddenly immersed in cold waters you can easily become at risk. It can make it impossible to move and harder to control your breathing. 

Cold water shock is the first stage of hypothermia, which is the stage that feels like it is ripping air from your lungs, it can also induce disorientation and vertigo too.  

As your body temperature drops, you will lose the ability to swim, become exhausted, confused, and will likely lose consciousness. 

Remember 1-10-1 if you end up in cold water. Give yourself 1 minute to regain breath control, 10 minutes of meaningful movement to rescue yourself, and 1 hour before you lose consciousness.

3. Getting Lost

While it is less likely you will get lost on a lake, you are more likely to get lost if you are out at sea, and while open waters are beautiful, they are a massive risk for ending up lost. You can lose your sense of direction, and you may not realize how far you have come, you can also easily drift. 

If you do want to go paddling out at sea, ensure you go with a group. If you really want to go solo though, stay tight with the shoreline, and track time and distance. A water-proof Apple Watch can actually save you here, keeping a track of time and maybe even a map.

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4. Weird/ Low-Head Dams

Low-headed dams also known as ‘drowning machine’ are man-made contraptions to control water levels. Great when it comes to flood prevention, but awful for kayakers. They are unmarked, filled with debris, and hard to spot. 

They are also impossible to escape thanks to the hydraulic forces, they will drag you under, and you can’t get out. 

So avoid these at all costs and never try to paddle over them. 

5. Lack Of Experience

It might seem like teaching grandma to suck eggs, but don’t overstep what you can do. As a beginner you should stick to easy and safe areas. Don’t go off with the pros as you are just putting yourself in danger. 

Whatever route you choose it needs to match your level of skill. Talk to other kayakers, research areas and know where it is safe for you to go, and where it isn’t. Get temperatures, winds, currents, hazards, and so on. 

Know what you are getting into and don’t try to excel too fast.

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