Paddle Safety – Before leaving shore

by Rod

This information was copied from the Paddle Safe Paddle Smart Website link Below.

 I would find it difficult to improve on such sound advise.


  1. Checking your kayak
  2. Safety
  3. First Aid Kit
  4. Hypothermia
  5. Choose the right clothing
  6. Sample Checklist
  7. Travel Plan
  8. Loading your kayak
  9. List of safety precautions
Checking your kayak

Each time you use your kayak you should first check each of the following items:

  1. Visually inspect the deck and hull to ensure that your kayak is free from cracks or other apparent signs of damage. If you are on an expedition and notice a crack, fill it with chewing gum and cover it with a strip of duct tape. Such repairs are temporary, and you should have your kayak repaired properly when you return home.
  2. Ensure that the rudder or skeg is operating correctly and that the blade is in good condition.
  3. Ensure that sand and salt are not obstructing the mechanisms.
  4. Make sure that theSpectra® cord is in good condition, if you have steel cables, they should be rust-free.
  5. Make sure that pedal and cover straps are not worn or frayed. A spare cord can always provide a temporary fix.
  6. Check that straps properly close compartments and that rubber seals under the covers are clean and in good repair.
  7. Ensure that all screws are tight and that no o-rings are missing.
  8. Finally, and above all, enjoy your outing!


Make safety your priority. Safety begins with three basic notions:

  1. Know how to recover in all conditions.
  2. Master the use of your kayak.
  3. Have all necessary equipment aboard for safe navigation.

Know how to recover
Recovery is not as hard as you may think. All you have to do is learn the technique and then practice it. If you are a beginner, we recommend that you enroll in practice sessions with a professional. He or she will teach you how to get in and out of the kayak, how to recover and a host of other ingenious tricks. Practice is the secret to success. Believe us when we say that the day you are faced with an emergency, you won’t regret having learned the recovery technique and how to immediately put it into practice. A few seconds can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Master the use of your kayak
Really get to know your kayak! When your adjustments are perfect and you have paddled a few strokes, take the time to test the performance and limits of your kayak. Experiment with the stability and practice bracing. Fine tune your turns and get to know how your kayak reacts to different types of wind and wave conditions. We recommend that you practice new moves in calm waters.

Don’t depart without all you gear
Check with your Maritime Authority for local regulations on the safety requirements you need when on the water. As a general rule you should have the following minimum amount of safety gear –

Safety Gear

– A PFD (personal floatation device)
– A 15-meter floating line (around 50′)
– A whistle or other sound-signalling device
– A bailer or pump
– A spare paddle

First Aid Kit

PDF File for downloading

A first aid kit should always be close by while sea kayaking, whether it’s simply used to treat a blister or used in the case of a major emergency, your kit will undoubtably be useful. Here is our suggestion for a kayaker first aid kit.

Since kayakers are often far from emergency services, we also recommand that you take a first and CPR course to be able to react effectively in case you do find yourselve in a incident.

Basic First Aid Kit

Suggested quantity

Recommended Items
1 Compact watertight-bag
1 Scissors
1 Tweezers
12 Safety pins (assorted sizes)
12 Adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
5 Sterile gauze pads
1 Roll of adhesive tape
2 Roll of sterile gauze bandage
1 Roll of elastic bandage
3 Triangular bandages
2 Sterile pressure dressings
5 Antiseptic Wipes
8 Wipes with 70% alcohol content
1 Aluminium survival blanket
1 Disposable CPR mask
1 Latex gloves for medical examination
1 Dry ice bag

This list is provided as a suggestion only. BORÉALDESIGN & Kayaknthings cannot be held liable for any item not listed.


Hypothermia is among the most insidious dangers of sea kayaking. This is why it is so important to be properly clothed, fed and hydrated, and to know when to rest to minimize risks.

What are the first signs of hypothermia?

Initial phase:

– Uncontrollable shivering
– Decreased manual dexterity
– Fatigue
– Numbness

Advanced phase:

– Disorientation
– Difficulty speaking
– Loss of balance
– No more shivering, false sense of warmth
– Listlessness, then unconsciousness.

How to react?

  • The first thing is to get the victim out of the present situation (in the water, exposed to wind or other factors).
  • Remove the victim’s wet clothing and replace it with warm, dry clothing.
  • Offer the victim a hot and sweet drink containing neither caffeine nor alcohol. Hydration is very important.
  • If possible, have the victim move about to warm up.
  • If the victim is prostrate, place him or her in a sleeping bag to retain body heat. Do not warm the victim up too quickly. Instead, proceed gradually.
  • If the situation stabilizes, offer the victim foodstuffs rich in carbohydrates and sugar, such as cereal bars, dried fruit, nuts, honey, etc.
  • Good food and proper rest are recommended before venturing out on the water once again.

A victim with advanced hypothermia should be evacuated as quickly as possible to a hospital or other location for appropriate treatment.

Choose the right Clothing

Kayak Jacket First check the weather forecast. Then check the temperature of the water where you plan to paddle. This information, combined with your experience, should allow you to make an appropriate choice of clothing.

Multilayered clothing (several layers of thin garments made of synthetic materials) is very comfortable. Never wear cotton garments which can become waterlogged and take a long time to dry. Wool, however, is an interesting option because it will keep you warm, even when wet. Take special care of your feet. They are the first part of your body in contact with water. Neoprene booties or neoprene socks are sure to improve your day!

Absolute Essentials
PFD (personal floatation device) Distress flares
Paddle Pump or bailer
Sprayskirt Waterproof flashlight or headlamp
Whistle or other sound-signalling device Throw bag, 15-metre floating line
Compass or GPS Spare paddle
Paddle float
And Don’t Forget
VHF or weather radio system Neoprene gloves or poggies
Wet suit Spare clothes
Paddling jacket or windbreaker Hat, cap or tuque
First aid kit Sunglasses
Repair kit Keep afloat (for eyeglasses)
Matches or lighter Sunscreen
Candles Sandals or shoes
Knife Food
Tide tables Small stove and fuel
Nautical and topographic charts Pots and pans
Waterbottle Toilet paper
Dry bags Ground sheet
Synthetic undergarments Spare cords
Neoprene booties
Fun Stuff
Board games Some good tales
A good book Munchies
One or more friends Your imagination
Harmonica Fun and beautiful weather!
Remember to leave a copy of your travel plan with a responsible individual.

Travel Plan

Personal information

First name:
Last name:
Number of people:
Medical restrictions:

Persons to contact in an emergency

Last name: First name:
Phone: Other number:
Last name: First name:
Phone: Other number:

Land and sea marks

Kayak colours:
Kayak models:
PFD colours:
Colours of tents or ground sheets:

Available means of communications

VHF call channel: Cell phone: Other:


Departure from: Date :
Arrival at: Date :
Itinerary details:
Alternative route or evacuation plan:
Vehicle: Colour: Licence plate number:
Parking location:
Vehicle: Colour: Licence plate number:
Parking location:

Search and rescue

Begin emergency procedures on:
Service to contact:


Loading your kayak

Whether for an expedition of a day or a week, it is important that you place your gear in dry bags. Use several small bags (21 L maximum) rather than one big one, because small bags are easier to store in the compartments and balance the load throughout, increasing kayak stability.

Balancing the load in a kayak is very important. Your kayak must not be heavier at the back than in the front. Store long, light objects such as tent poles and ground mattresses at the stern and bow of your kayak. Tie them together with pieces of rope; then you need only pull on the end of the rope to retrieve them. Place the heaviest bags as close as possible to the centre of your kayak in the compartment behind the paddler. In tandem kayaks, heavy objects can be placed in the centre compartment.

If you are leaving for several days, here are some helpful tricks:

– Separate your food into meals, for example, one meal per bag. When you load your kayak everything needed for your meal will be easily accessible because you will have placed it on top.

– On expeditions, share baggage evenly among the paddlers.

– Always try to carry the same baggage. Remember where bags are stored, making it easy for you to balance the load in your kayak every day and speed up the loading process.

Loading your kayak

Loading your kayak

Loading your kayak

List of safety precautions

Take the time to read the following list. Make sure anyone else who uses your kayak also reads them before casting off.


  • Paddle sports can be very dangerous and physically demanding.
  • The user of this product should understand that participation in paddle sports may involve serious injury or death.
  • Observe the following safety standards whenever using this product.
  • Get paddle sports instructions specific to this type of craft.
  • Obtain certified first aid training and carry first aid and rescue/safety equipment.
  • Always wear a nationally approved personal floatation device.
  • Always wear a helmet when appropriate.
  • Dress appropriately for weather conditions; cold water and/or cold weather can result in hypothermia.
  • Check your equipment prior to use for signs of wear or failure.
  • Never paddle alone.
  • Do not paddle in flood conditions.
  • Be aware of appropriate river water levels, tidal changes, dangerous currents and weather changes.
  • Scout unfamiliar water; portage when appropriate.
  • Do not exceed your paddling ability; be honest with yourself.
  • Consult your physician prior to beginning your paddle sports training.
  • You must not use alcohol or mind-altering drugs while using this product.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the use of this product.
  • If additional outfitting is required, use only manufacturer-approved materials; do not impair entry or exit access.
  • The user of this product recognizes, is aware of, and assumes all risks inherent in the sport of canoeing and kayaking.


  • A nationally approved and correctly sized Personal Floatation Device (PFD) with you? Wear it!
  • A whistle?
  • A floating line at least 15 metres long (50 ft)?
  • A bailer or pump aboard, properely secured?
  • Navigation lights or a waterproof flashlight when visibility is poor?
  • An easily accessible spare paddle?
  • A paddle float?
  • A compass ?
  • A flare pack in your pocket?
  • A chart and a tide tables?
  • A knife?
  • A tow rope?
  • A first aid kit?
  • Food and drink?
  • Appropriate clothing for the weather?
  • Additional communication (cell phone, VHF radio)?
  • Does someone know your route and when you should return?
  • Check that your hatch covers are fastened correctly?
  • If your kayak doesn’t have waterproof compartments, do you have floatation bags? Are they secured?