Drowning is the leading cause of death for paddlers in personal watercraft. In fact, kayakers have double the risk of drowning as non-paddleboarders. A two-person inflatable sea kayak was the cause of death for an Idaho woman named Shawna Thomas. The Outdoor Foundation reported that kayakers made 99.9 million outings in the United States each year, with the average person taking eight trips a year. But drowning is the leading cause of death for paddlers in small watercraft.
A paddling accident can happen to anyone and a small watercraft is one of the most common causes of fatal accidents. Falls from high points, contact with another object or a collision with another boat are just some of the most common causes of accidents involving paddlers in small craft. Drowning, however, is the most common cause of death among paddlers, with a three-fold higher risk of drowning than in other water sports.
Small craft paddlers are also more likely to die from weather-related accidents. Because they are frequently submerged in water, paddlers are more exposed to the elements than any other type of boater. If one’s equipment fails, they may panic and use their paddle as a weapon, ultimately leading to their death. Luckily, most paddle manufacturers provide warranties for their equipment, but they may not be long enough to address all your paddling needs.
Although paddlers may think that paddleboarding and kayaking are leisurely activities, mistakes can turn these sports deadly. Many paddlers ignore safety precautions and fail to wear a life jacket, wear proper clothing, and learn the proper way to handle their craft. One of the most common reasons for drowning in paddlers is dehydration. Dehydration is caused by poor water intake and excessive sweating, and dehydration causes cell death.
A capsized boat can kill a paddler in less than a minute. Boats with less stability tend to capsize more frequently, and the risks of drowning are greater. If a paddler doesn’t wear a life jacket, he or she could run into another object or fall from a high point in the water. In fact, drowning is the leading cause of death for paddlers in small crafts.
Proper paddling techniques and advanced rescue skills are learned through practice. To ensure safety, you should take classes from a certified instructor or dealer. If you are unsure of how to paddle, pass astern of a larger craft and wear bright, visible colors. Always keep a paddle float on hand, which is an inflatable bag attached to your paddle. A paddle float will act as an outrigger in an emergency.
When you are in a small craft, never overload it. Too much weight will cause your craft to capsize and you may fall overboard. Overloading your craft will also cause your craft to sit lower in the water and increase the risk of being swamped by a wave or wake. You should stay low and avoid sudden movements. It is also a good idea to wear heavy clothing and keep it on during the fall.
Regardless of the type of small craft you are paddling, you should always carry a water bottle with you. The longer the paddle, the more water you need to carry with you. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, fatigue, confusion, and can impair your ability to paddle safely. Drinking water while on the water is essential even if you don’t feel thirsty. This is a warning sign of dehydration.
In a small craft, paddlers should always wear a life jacket and wear appropriate clothing. They should also know how to safely handle the craft. Although paddlers usually enjoy outdoor activities in pristine areas, they should still be aware of the dangers of poisonous plant life, which can produce toxins and pollute water supplies. Poisoning is a leading cause of death for recreational paddlers.
Small craft is more dangerous than larger vessels. The risk of drowning is double for paddlers in small craft, and suffocation is three times greater than in large vessels. One reason for this is that people in small craft are often not properly protected. In some cases, the paddler may be pinned by the canoe, or run into a floating object. The extreme temperature change can cause the paddler to collapse in the water and die.
If you or your paddler is experiencing symptoms of dehydration, it is imperative to drink fluids to stay well hydrated. Dehydration can lead to brain damage, and if left untreated, can result in organ failure and even coma. While there are many treatments available to cure dehydration, prevention is the best medicine. You must make sure that you follow guidelines to stay hydrated, set an example, and educate your paddlers to drink plenty of water.
While most deaths associated with small watercraft are the result of a lack of experience, equipment failure can be fatal to paddlers. When novices don’t have the proper safety equipment, they may panic and use the paddle as a weapon. Whether paddlers use a life jacket or not is another question. Regardless of the type of paddle, paddlers must take all safety measures when paddling in deep water.
Whether you’re kayaking or sailing, you need to make sure you’re prepared for unexpected conditions. Paddle blades should be contrasting colors to make it easier to spot larger craft. When paddling in busy shipping lanes, stay close to the water to make yourself more visible to large craft. If you’re paddling with a group, it’s a good idea to wear bright colors so that speedboats can recognize you and avoid hitting you.
Kayaks should be equipped with a life jacket and a dry bag. Water can be cold, but a kayak’s heat loss can be even greater. Cold water also makes kayaks vulnerable to waves. As a result, kayakers lose body heat quickly, causing them to capsize. And despite their insulated design, kayaks are vulnerable to wind and waves.
Exiting and entering your craft on the water
Most kayaking deaths were accidental. However, they can be prevented by following these simple tips. During a capsize, try to wriggle out of the water as quickly as possible and swim to the upstream end of the craft. Try not to get pinned between the boat and a rock! Once your balance and head are back on track, exit the water. Be sure to point your toes at the surface. Avoid standing in the moving water, as you can easily become entrapped in a rock or a water slalom.
If you are going to paddle in a calm body of water, be sure to be aware of the conditions. For example, if a storm is approaching, be prepared to get blown into deep water. In case you have never paddled before, remember to stay close to shore and wear a life jacket. When in doubt, wear a life jacket and make sure to carry enough water. Another leading cause of death for paddlers in small crafts is dehydration. This is usually caused by excessive sweating and inadequate water intake. Dehydration can cause cell death, so it is crucial to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated.
Be especially careful while exiting and entering your craft on the water. You should never try to cut a hole in the bottom of your craft when you are on the water. Even a discarded shopping cart can pose a threat. Don’t forget to check your boat’s bottom for objects that may be floating around. A rusty shopping cart or a discarded shopping cart may have a dangerous shape, which can cause you to capsize.
Avoiding obstacles in the water
A kayaker’s most crucial safety tip is to always avoid the most common obstacles on the water. Many mistakes can lead to drowning. Whether the obstacle is above or below the surface, the water will have a v shape. The narrow point of the v will be closest to you, while the wide part will be further away. Attempting to cross such a v requires a great deal of skill and knowledge.
When canoeing, avoid overhanging branches or other objects that are above the water. Remember that the river is moving and you may be carried into the obstacle while paddling away. For instance, a canoe broadsided a bridge abutment will shift and become pinned, causing tons of force on the canoe. Therefore, avoiding above-water obstacles is critical.
Paddlers on small craft are most likely to die from drowning. Often, paddlers do not wear a life jacket, which can put them in serious danger. It’s also very important to wear a life jacket, and know how to swim. A good paddler should also wear a PFD and have a plan if anything goes wrong.
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