Paddle Safe. Don't become the next missing kayaker.

October 10th, 2012, 9:30pm


"Kayaker missing".  More and more, I am reading such headlines and it opens me to more comments shed by family and friends.  I continuously hear, "Please be careful", "Don't paddle alone", "Can't you simply kayak in the lake?", and my favorite..."Isn't it shark season?".  Darn you Shark Week for your awesome programming. (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/shark-week/)

Please people, settle down.  Driving a car is far more dangerous and we have all come to terms with the that and live on driving daily.

There is a risk in nearly all activities of a person's daily life.  How you succeed in making it through another day is primarily on the fact that, knowledge, experience, and safety, have instilled itself upon your daily routines.  Everyone knows to hold a knife carefully.  Everyone knows to stay out of traffic when walking.  Equally, an experienced kayaker knows to wear a Personal Floatation Device (PFD) when entering the arena of "the drink".      However, an amateur does not!  This is a result of uneducated or pride driven individuals.  You know...the ones that say, "I know how to swim", "It's not a law for adults", "I can get back in the kayak if I fall out".  Honestly, I have used the first quote when I started venturing out on my own.  Stupid me, but is it completely my fault?

For those still unfamiliar with what I am talking about, I am referring to the "Life Vest".  Quite appropriatly named.  Though, I like my witty daughter's description of what PFD stands for...Prevention From Death.

I think it is fair to say that making a law requiring to wear a PFD is a bit far fetched and definitely encroaches on our rights but I also think people should be forced to acknowledge the importance of a PFD by providing the public better education of this life saver.  Kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding is on the rise.  But I have yet to see a commercial on such safety products hit the mainstream media.  Why is that?  There are TV shows about extreme bikers, extreme fishing, extreme "you name it".  We need a program on kayakers.  I understand we need to captivate the audience for ratings and "numbers" so why not have a program on Extreme Sea kayakers, or the stereotypical whitewater kayakers?  Such programs would offer not only entertainment but important knowledge and education, resulting in increased safety.

I am confident that most kayakers that have experienced danger, or worst yet, become a fatal loss to society could have been avoided with the help of society.  Large department store chains selling kayaks to newbies, should offer knowledge on the importance of a PFD and even provide informative manuals.  Whether one decides to read it is up for debate but shouldn't we make sure the person was given an opportunity to know some important issues before selling them a vessel?  Heck, my bicycle came with a safety book (Wear a helmet!), and so should a kayak.

Another thing to know is that not all PFDs are created equal.  There are PFDs for jet skiers, boating, and other aquatic activities.  Each have a special characteristic for the particular activity of interest.  The choice of the proper PFD is critical for kayakers.  Buying a PFD for kayaking will most definitely ensure your acceptance in wearing one.  Kayaking PFDs have better arm clearance for full range of paddling movement.  Along with that is a lower cut in the front neck region and the bottom cut higher all around.  This leave an interesting narrow floatation design that makes it easy to be worn in a sit-down position yet not feel restricting in any way.  In fact, it should nearly feel as if you forgot to put one on with one particular exception...Wear it tight!!!  PFDs (cheap or expensive) loosen when wet.  It's the nature of the nylon straps and it happens to all of them.

Some important notes about PFDs:

  • You float with them!
  • They keep you warm longer in the water.
  • Most are provided with vibrant colors or reflective materials (Now you are easier to be found!)
  • They provide pockets for convenience
  • They look really cool (if you buy a good one)

Here are some great articles to learn more...

- http://www.uscg.mil/hq/cg5/cg5214/pfdselection.asp
- http://www.boatsafe.com/kids/pfdslaws.htm
- http://www.uscgboating.org/safety/life_jacket_wear_wearing_your_life_jacket.aspx

 

Please people...  If you are reading this, then you are interested in kayaking.  Do me a favor and wear your PFD.  I never heard anyone say "Thank god you didn't wear your PFD"... or... "You look so sexy without your PFD" ... or... "If you wear that, I am not joining you".

A race car driver looks cool with his/her helmet on... A kayaker wearing a PFD looks even cooler if you ask me.

 

 
 
 

Paddle Safe. Don't become the next missing kayaker.

 

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