To fully enjoy any pastime on the water it is best to be fully equipped with all the safety gear advised. Not only will it keep you safe it will allow you to have a fun day and if anything does happen you will be fully prepared. Kayaking is no different, and there are many items that can help your paddling safety and to use as rescue gear should the occasion arise. Paddlers that are fully equipped face less danger if they capsize and below is the bear minimum of safety equipment that you should have when enjoying your favorite pastime.
PFDs are better known as Personal Flotation Devices and are the most important pieces of safety gear that you need when you take your kayak out on the water. Their main attribute is their buoyancy which keeps your head above water if you capsize. PFD’s also make rolling and bracing easier as they add extra upward lift when you are out of the boat and in the water. An added benefit is these devices also act as an extra form of insulation when you are in colder waters. In some countries such as the U.S.A it is mandatory that all boaters carry a fully approved Personal Flotation Device. As with all safety equipment they should be put on before you paddle, as trying to put them on in the water is really difficult.
The best cure for anything is prevention, and to help stop your kayak from capsizing it is a good idea to fit it with flotation bags. Usually these devices are only used for white water kayaking but there is nothing wrong with using them for a quiet paddle on a lake. Sea kayaks actually have then already built in as they have extra space in their bulkheads designed especially for them. Flotation bags can be fitted in the bow, the center, and the stern. An added advantage to them apart from their buoyancy is they enable the boat to ride high over rocks and other obstacles. There are even some types of bags that you can fit length-ways down the sides of the kayak.
For beginners starting out on the water they can attach Sponsons to the outsides of their boats. These are flotation devices that can be inflated and are normally fixed in pairs either side of the kayak. Mostly they are in the form of nylon tubes but can be fixed drums if the craft is permanently used for training purposes.
No matter what type of kayaking you intend to do, a helmet is essential for every paddler. Obviously, they are highly important for white water conditions or shallow water where the danger of hitting your heads on rocks is far greater. The best helmets are a comfortable fit but can be fastened securely so they cannot come off. Some helmets even have extra face protection for extreme kayaking. Equipped with all this essential safety gear you can now go out and enjoy your paddling.