Safety checklist – best whitewater kayak for beginners

Best whitewater kayak for beginners – Working together under a grant provided by the Wallop-Breaux Aquatic Resources Trust, the American Canoe Association and United States Coast Guard have developed a safety checklist for best whitewater kayak for beginners. The Aquatic Resources Trust Fund was established under Sport Fish Restoration Act to collect taxes on sporting good, fishing gear and motorboat fuel. About $450 million is passed on to the states for fish habitat restoration, facility construction, and educational program for anglers and boaters.

Safety checklist - best whitewater kayak for beginners

Checklist in best whitewater kayak for beginners

File a float plan – File a float plan as part of your routine River Trip Planning. File it with someone you trust will call if you are late.

Wear a lifejacket and keep it snug – Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or lifejacket designed for the type of paddling you enjoy and wear it.

Assess your boat’s flotation – Flotation needs to fit snugly and be well secured. Ensure watertight compartments on kayaks are sealed.

Carry a spare paddle – Lack of a backup paddle can complicate a trip. Depending on the activity, some paddlers use a paddle leash that connects the paddle to the boat or wrist. Leash aren’t suitable for whitewater use

Always dress for an unexpected flip – Consider clothing as a system and dress in layers. Using polypro underwear, drysuit or paddle jacket and dry pants will better prepare you for unexpected soakings

Wear a Hat or Helmet – A helmet should be worn in whitewater sized to accommodate a neoprene hood for paddling in cold water. There are obvious benefits to protecting your head while bouncing down the river bottom. Using a neoprene hood in cold water keeps the head warm and prevents the shock of unexpected entry into cold water that can upset equilibrium. Paddlers in calm water should have a hat for protection from the sun.

Chart and Compass or Map of the River – Remain oriented. Learn low technology navigation and map reading before becoming depend on a GPS receiver that can be dropped or run low on batteries

Carry a Whistle or Sound Signaling Device – Consider tying a whistle to your PFD

best whitewater kayak for beginners

Throw bags and other rescue gear – Purchase and learn to use a Throw Rope Bag. Take a swiftwater rescue or river safety clinic

River knife – A knife should be within reach anytime there are lines being used near boats

Bilge pump and/or Bailer – Paddlers operating in open water need something to get the water out of their boats

Self-rescue devices – These can be paddle floats for sea kayakers or painters and end loops attached to whitewater craft

Signaling and Communications Gear – Well prepared paddlers should carry several means of communication, lights, mirrors and flares. Consider the purchase of water resistant handheld marine VHF radio to improve trip safety

First Aid and Survival Kits – There are ready made marine first aid kits on the market or you can build your own. Consider assembling a personal survival kit

Duct Tape – The paddler’s friend

Personal Items – Carry this gear for your protection from the elements and use drybags to keep all of your equipment dry:

Drinking Water
Proper Footwear
UV Eye Protection/Sunglasses with a strap
See the Compleat Kayaker’s Gear List for more ideas on how to outfit your next trip.

Avoid Boating Under the Influence BUI

A quick review of any day’s news reveals a disturbing and widespread boating safety problem, boating while intoxicated:

Conway, South Carolina – Boater faces charges operating under the influence of alcohol after an accident that seriously injured his friend.

Safety checklist - best whitewater kayak for beginners

Lake Winnepocket, New Hampshire – A man was found dead after the capsize of his canoe. Investigators suspect alcohol played a role in the boating accident.

Palm Valley, Florida – Five people died and nine were injured in a boating accident on the Intercoastal Waterway. Alcohol was found in the boat.

The Effects of Alcohol on Boat Operators

The United States Coast Guard publishes recreational boating safety statistics every year. The agency notes that alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in boating fatalities, with it being listed as the leading factor in 21% of all deaths. A drunk boat operator is ten times more likely to die than a sober one.

While boating drunk presents many of the same risks as driving a car under the influence, there are many other factors at play:

Visual acuity – Peripheral, night, and color vision are negatively effected by alcohol use.
Balance – Alcohol impacts the function of the inner ear and effects balance. This can cause falls overboard and diminish the ability to discern up from down once in the water.
Hypothermia – Alcohol causes blood vessels to dilate and increases heat loss from the body. The false sense of warmth it creates compounds the risk of hypothermia for boaters.
Judgment – Cognitive reasoning and decision making are impaired by alcohol use.
Reaction Time – The ability to react quickly to apparent danger is lowered by alcohol use.
Boating Fatigue – On the water, wave motion, engine vibration, sunlight, heat and engine noise intensify the effect of alcohol on a boat operator greatly impacting performance and increasing fatigue. The effect is often called boater’s hypnosis.
Legal Consequences of Boating Under the Influence (BUI)

Operating a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08 percent is treated as a serious crime by both federal and state governments. In most states, this violation of the law carries the same potential consequences as a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) convection, with its associated fines and jail time.

The safest approach is to not drink while boating. Safety experts say that there is no safe threshold for alcohol use for boat operators. A person who weighs 160 pounds is near the 0.08% BAC threshold after two drinks and is already impaired as a boat operator.

Alcohol use is one contributing factor seen in boating accidents that is 100% preventable and completely within the control of the boater. Nothing is as enjoyable as a boating trip or as tragic as a needless death on the water.

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