Now for those of you who live in our area, or have read our stories about the
Image via Wikipediaalligators, I can understand that you might be just a little hesitant.
But for those who don't live in gator country - DON'T BE FOOLED! You have some type of wriggling, slimy, toothy creature lurking in your water, too! Unless the place you plan to kayak has to be treated with chlorine regularly, you have critters underneath, around and beside the shore of your body of water. You just have to get used to the idea.
If you can get past the notion of paddling with critters, here are some common sense safety suggestions you need to keep in mind before you go out for the first time.
1. NEVER PADDLE ALONE
Having seen a person capsize, I recognize the value of having a buddy along. Take a friend. . .the joys will be doubled and any trouble will be shared.
2. ALWAYS LET SOMEONE KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING
This is so if the alligators, extremely large lake bass, or whatever sea creature it happens to be, actually eats you, your family will know where to begin looking.
3. ALWAYS WEAR A PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE, THAT FITS
"Fits" is the operative word. If it is not snug, IT IS NOT FITTING! Raise your arms up over your head. Then have your kayaking buddy pull up on the PFD by the shoulders. If your vest moves freely, or the front zipper touches your nose, IT DOESN'T FIT!
If your vest is on the kayak next to you, IT ISN'T FITTING!
4. KNOW HOW TO SWIM. . .WELL
If you don't know how to swim, go on a cruise, rent a fishing boat, stand at the shore and enjoy the scenery, but DO NOT KAYAK!
5. BE PREPARED TO GET WET
Be prepared for everything to get wet. Have plastic bags, or plastic lock boxes for anything you don't want to end up soaked. If you don't like getting wet, don't go kayaking.
6. BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED
No one expects to run into trouble, but be ready for it all the same. Carry sunscreen, bug spray, signaling devices (visual and auditory), a first aid kit, a compass, water to drink, etc.
7. DON'T GET CAUGHT UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A PADDLE
Carry an extra paddle. We like to use pieces of pool "noodles" on ours as well to make sure they float.
8. SECURE WHAT YOU DON'T WANT TO LOSE
If you wear glasses, secure them to your head. Keys, wallet, anything you don't want to end up at the bottom of the river needs to be secured and made waterproof and buoyant.
9. BE AWARE OF AND RESPECT, THE WEATHER
Kayaking out on the water, with a metal paddle in your hand in a thunderstorm, would not be a fun day of boating.
Check the weather before you go. Look at the conditions before you put-in. Know the weather patterns for the season and your area.
10. LEAVE THE WILDLIFE ALONE
Back to the critters, again. If you leave them alone, they will most likely leave you alone.
Research the animals that live around the waterways of your area. Find out when and where they nest. Learn to steer clear of their nesting areas.
Do not be aggressive with wildlife. THESE ARE NOT CARTOON ANIMALS. If provoked, they will attack in return.
Leave the birds and fish alone (unless you are fishing from your kayak, of course.) Do not feed the wildlife, they will associate eating with the humans around them.
Try to leave the environment the same way you found it. The only thing that should be taken back from your trips are great memories and photographs. The only thing you should leave is the wake of your boat and your footprints on the shore.