Many of the boating accidents which make it into the news involve motorized boats. However, many Florida boating accidents in fact involve small man-powered boats such as canoes or kayaks. Just because these boats do not have motors, this does not make them perfectly safe. They can still result in accidents, near-drowning, and serious injuries. Each year, for example, some Florida head injuries occur when people who are canoeing or kayaking run into trouble.
According to the National Safety Council and The American Canoe Association, there are several things Florida kayakers and canoe enthusiasts can do to stay safe in the water:
1) It is best to travel with at least three boating buddies and two canoes or kayaks. This helps ensure that if you run into trouble, there is another craft to help you – as well as others who can get help.
2) Learn boating skills before you head out in the water. Since canoes and kayaks do not make use of engines or motors and since paddlers can head out on calm waters, some mistakenly believe that there are no dangers. Tragically, some people even allow their children to kayak or canoe alone, believing that the quiet activity is safe. Even still waters can contain high waters, rocks, and other dangers. As well, quiet waters can quickly become fast-moving streams that can overwhelm an inexperienced boater. Florida offers many boating classes for kayakers and canoe enthusiasts as well as other types of boaters. These classes can help you boat safely, no matter what type of craft you choose.
3) Even experienced boaters can run into trouble on new waterways. It is always important to familiarize yourself thoroughly with a body of water before you attempt to take your craft out on it.
4) Determine your comfort level and skill level before heading out in the water. Even if you are a seasoned kayaker, a whitewater rafting adventure in a remote area may be too much for you. Stick with your comfort level and build your skill level gradually before taking on new challenges.
5) Wear the correct safety gear. If you are on whitewater rapids or fast-moving streams, you may need a helmet. Many Florida head injuries caused by boating accidents take place because a patient was not wearing adequate head protection. Good safety gear can help prevent many accidents. Whether you kayak or canoe, wear your life jacket each time you head out on the water.