Kayaking on the Hudson

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

10 Rules of Kayak Safety

Kayak Safety: Rules of the road
I guess this should really be called “rules of the water” but whatever you call it, I tried to boil down kayak safety into some basic rules.  I’ll be expanding on many of these rules in future posts and you can read about what happens when you violate these rules in the “Kayak Misadventures” section of this blog site (Let’s just say I learned some these the hard way).

Basic Kayak Safety Rules: (In approximate order of importance)

1.      Always, always, always wear a pfd / life vest / life preserver.  Call it whatever you want, just so long as you wear it.  This rule is the most important and is nonnegotiable.  Wear a pfd or you could die.  It’s that simple.

2.      No matter how much you plan, you are not in control of the kayak trip, the weather is.  Respect the weather and be prepared for it to change without warning.

3.      Never paddle alone.  Ideally, you should paddle in groups of 3 or more.  This is the best for performing rescues.  In the future I will put up a post on how to lessen the risks of paddling alone for those of you who like solitude.

4.  Practice rescue techniques so you will know what to do when things go pear-shaped out on the water.  Rough seas and high winds are not ideal conditions for learning how to rescue someone.

5.      Carry a first-aid kit.  Things happen when kayaking and you are often far away form help.  A basic first-aid kit can really be the difference.  I will post my first-aid checklist in the future.

6.      Carry a repair kit.  I recommend the “universal kayak repair kit”, also known as duct tape.  A good multi-tool, like a Leatherman, is a good idea too.  I will post my repair kit checklist in the future.

7.      Make sure someone who isn’t going on the trip knows about it.  Just in case.

8.      Bring extra.  Extra clothing, extra food, extra water, extra paddle, just in case you end up being out longer than expected or something goes wrong.

9.      Know your limits and be realistic.

10.      Know your equipment and be realistic.

See you on the water,
Don Urmston
Email me if you have any questions:


  1. Kayaking is a very enjoyable water sports activity. These safety measures that you have shared are very helpful in making it more fun since untoward incidents can be avoided. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Very informative post.When I had my vacation in the Philippines last year, I also tried their one of the best water sport and that is kayak Philippines.It seems that many Filipinos really love the said sports.