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I like to kayak. It’s a paddlesport, like canoeing, stand-up paddleboarding. It’s growing in popularity. There are special precautions that people need to take, though. What are those?
A kayak, canoe, a paddlecraft should be seen as any other boat. The same things that are required in that power-driven boat are required in that paddle-driven boat. You have to have a life jacket, a PFD, on board for every occupant of that boat. One of the most common violations we see are those PFDs being used to tie multiple canoes or multiple rafts together on the lakes, or specifically on the float streams. They are often in knots, and you just can’t get to them when someone would need them. I worked an incident on Stockton Lake where two guys were in a canoe. They turned that canoe over, capsized it in the middle of a cove late at night. And there was not a personal flotation device in that canoe with them. One guy did drown. One guy made it back to shore and almost drowned. That very easily could have been prevented if there would’ve been two personal flotation devices, two life jackets, in that canoe with those two guys.
So the gist is: make sure you have your life jackets and you’re wearing them when you’re doing paddlesports.
Yes, a life jacket not worn won’t do you any good, and these newer life jackets are more user-friendly than ever.