Play it safe when canoeing, kayaking



Summer is a perfect time for canoeing and kayaking, but it’s also the peak season for recreational boating accidents, according to the United States Coast Guard. To help prevent boating mishaps, follow these safety tips.

Preparing for a trip

Do the following before going out on the water:

• Register your boat with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Check with your state’s DNR office for registration instructions and requirements.

• Take a boating safety course, especially if you’re a beginner. You can find canoe and kayak safety courses through the American Canoe Association (ACA). You also may want to practice swimming in case your boat capsizes.

• Pack essentials, including basic first aid items, sunscreen, food and water in a waterproof bag. Bring a life jacket for each passenger, and be sure you all wear your life jackets when you’re on or near the water. The United States Coast Guard found that the majority of drowning victims were not wearing life jackets.

• Check the water and weather conditions, and mind any safety warnings. Rough or high water can be dangerous, even for experienced paddlers.

• If you plan to go out by yourself, let someone know where you’re headed.

On the water

You’ll want to know how to:

• Navigate different bodies of water. On a river, avoid “strainers” — such as fallen trees — that could trap you. For ocean kayaking, stick close to shore and make sure you know how to handle wind speed and wave height.

• Share the water with other boats. On busy or commercial waters, navigate outside the green and red buoys. Never try to “beat” a motorboat — let them pass. Wear bright clothing and use proper lighting so others can easily spot you.

• Handle capsizing. Always stay with your boat, which will float even if it’s full of water.

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