New to kayaking? Check out these important safety tips from our water safety experts

At Elevator Alley Kayak, we know how exciting it is when you’ve got your kayak ready, the sun is shining and you’re all set to head out on the water. But before you go, make sure you understand these important tips and guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable kayaking excursion!

  1. First thing’s first—plan, plan, plan! It’s always best to have an idea of where you’ll be kayaking, what the conditions will be like and how long you plan to be gone so that you can be prepared for what’s ahead of you. Spend some time making a game plan for you and your kayaking companions. Figure out where you’re going and make sure you’ll be venturing on a safe route. Make a list to see what you’ll need in terms of equipment, water and snacks.
  2. Let someone know where you’ll be. It’s always wise to give a friend or family member a heads up before you head out. Just in case conditions change or you are unable to access a phone, having someone who knows where you are is an extra precaution you can take in case of an emergency.
  3. Wear a life vest. You’ve been hearing things like this for years—put on your seatbelt, don’t forget to wear a helmet!—but when it comes down to it, wearing the proper safety equipment can save your life. Play it safe by wearing a properly fitting type 3 personal flotation device (life vest). If possible, attach a safety whistle to your PFD so that you can communicate with others in case of an emergency.
  4. Wear proper clothing. In addition to a life vest, it is a good idea to take a few extra precautions with your clothing and equipment before heading out. If possible, dress in bright and/or reflective clothing so that other boaters can more easily see you. Dress accordingly as well. Check the weather before you leave to make sure you have the proper attire for the conditions.
  5. Pay attention to the weather conditions. In addition to knowing what to wear, being aware of the weather conditions for the length of your excursion can help you be better prepared for what conditions you will be facing. Having said this, if the weather is not good—stormy, windy, foggy or dark—heed on the side of caution and stay off of the water. This is especially important for smaller, less stable boats or for inexperienced kayakers.
  6. Understand the rules of the road. When in doubt, stay off to the side to let larger boats pass through the middle of the waterway. When making your way across a waterway, cross at a right angle so that you spend less time in the middle of others’ path. It’s also recommended to have a basic knowledge of vessel navigation lights and sounds to help prevent accidents.

Understanding the rules and regulations of the water and making sure you are properly equipped is crucial in case of unexpected scenarios you may face while kayaking. Now that you know a few important tips to keep you and your loved ones safe on the water, you can feel more prepared to head out on your next adventure. And remember, when in doubt, it’s always best to play it safe.


Material for this blog post references the article “Sea Paddling Safety 101” by Ensign Lauren Gainor, USCG Sector New York.