Whether you’re gliding down a river or battling the swell in the sea, it pays to know the safety rules of kayaking before you go. As with all recreational activities, it's a fun adventure for everyone to enjoy, but there's always the possibility of issues associated with weather, equipment or lack of skill. Check out our beginner's guide to kayak safety, and stay safe on the water.
Before you head out on the water – be prepared
If you've never been kayaking before, seeking instruction from a qualified teacher is the best way to learn about proper paddling techniques, water safety, basic first aid and weather conditions.
Make sure you have the right equipment and safety devices (you can buy kayak accessories online, including personal floatation devices). Regularly check your kayak for any leaks or damage to determine if it's sea-worthy. If you want to go into new areas, do some research to familiarise yourself with any hazards, such as rocks and sandbanks.
Depending on the length of your trip, there are a few simple steps you should take before you head off. The first one is to check the Bureau of Meteorology website for the latest weather forecast and tide times. You want to ensure that you're coming back with the wind or the tide, to make it easier on the return paddle.
No matter how short your trip is, pack some drinking water, food and sunblock. It's a good idea to let someone know where you’re departing from, whether you are returning to the same spot and your expected time of arrival.
Safety measures for your kayak adventure
There are a number of ways to increase safety measures while you're out on the water. Paddling in a group is a great way to stay safe and have fun along the way. To make sure you don't lose your all-important paddles, fix them to the kayak with a paddle leash while you are river kayaking. If you're in the surf, you could become tangled in the leash, so stow it away in rough conditions
You can attach reflective tape to your kayak and lifejacket to increase visibility, especially when you're in an area with large boats. For extended journeys, check out kayak accessories online to have a small outboard motor fitted for use in strong currents or in the event of an emergency.
Keep a sharp eye on your surroundings at all times and stay close to the shoreline when it’s safe – but be careful of cliffs, rocks and rebounding waves that may be bigger and more dangerous than you think.
Navigation rules for kayaking
When you're out on a river or a creek, it's important to follow the navigation rules. Always keep to the right hand side of the waterway in the direction of travel. Be extra careful and alert for other boats when you're crossing from one side to the other, as they may be moving faster than they appear and may not be able to stop quickly.
Most importantly, stay calm if you do experience any problems. When you follow the basic safety rules of kayaking, you should have everything you need to ensure your safety for ongoing kayaking fun!