People spend time out on the water to have fun with family and friends. It is never fun when someone gets hurt or has a bad experience. This article will help on water users: Kayakers, small boaters, SUP paddlers etc... stay safe and ensure everyone has a good time.
Always wear a Life Jacket (PFD): 80% of all drowning victims were not wearing a PFD. Wearing your life jacket is the single most important thing to ensure your safety on the water. So why don't more people wear them? The most common argument we hear is that they are uncomfortable. What a bunch of hooeey. Yes there are many life-jackets out there that are built to simply check off a requirement, in that they are built with low quality materials and a low attention to detail. A good quality PFD is built with comfort and usability in mind. Spend some time at your local shop trying a number of vests on to ensure proper fit and comfort. Learn more about Selecting the Proper Life Jacket.
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Know your limits: It is a good idea to conduct a risk assessment before you head out on the water for any activity. This assessment not only needs to include whats is going on in the environment, but it also needs to honestly assess the proficiency and experience of all of those who are participating. If you find a number of things to be "risky" then reconsider or amend your planned outing. Get some training and know your limit and always be honest with yourself and others.
Dress for the water: This is a common saying amongst all watermen and women. It is not a matter of if you will find yourself in the water, it is a mater of when. Wearing the proper clothing will not only ensure your safety during immersion but will also make the unplanned dip more tolerable and who knows, dare I say fun? Water lowers your body temperature 25 times faster than water. In water less than 60 degrees you can find yourself in a bad situation quickly without proper insulation. Learn more about Dressing for Immersion.
Safety in Numbers: It is always best to have others on the water with you. Even if they aren't experienced they can still provide valuable assistance, like call for help. Spending time on the water by yourself means that your are totally dependent on your own tools, equipment and skill set to get you out of a jam.
Have Back-Up: If your are in an area that has cell service, bring your phone is a waterproof case. Remember. is is better to have and not need, then to need and not have. Bring high energy snacks, fire starters, space blanket, some first aid supplies and dry clothes. These items don't take up a lot of room and be easily packed in a small dry bag. Having some extra gear can be a difference maker!