Summer is a time for picnics, pool parties and long days at the beach. It’s also a great time for kayaking! Whether you’re paddling around in a sheltered cove or making your way down a rushing river, kayaking can be a lot of fun. But it’s important to remember that even though kayaking is an outdoor activity, it can still be dangerous. So before you take your little ones out on the water, make sure you know these kayak safety tips for children.
Choose the Right Kayak
When you go kayaking, it’s important to choose a boat that is right for your child. Make sure the kayak fits them well and that they are able to sit in it comfortably without their knees being bent up too high or hanging down low. You might even want to try out the kayak yourself before heading out on the water so you can be sure there are no pinch points or other dangerous areas your child might hit while paddling. And if you have more than one child who wants to go kayaking with you, consider getting each of them their own boat. This will make it much easier for everyone involved.
Check Your Equipment
Just because you’re planning on spending a day out on the water doesn’t mean you can skip your pre-kayaking equipment check. Before getting in the boat, make sure all of your life jackets are properly fitted and that they aren’t damaged, patched or expired. Make sure there is enough room on the kayak for everyone to keep their feet dry and that a throw cushion is within reach if someone does go overboard. Also make sure you have everything you need for a fun day out on the water: food, sunscreen, towels, etc.
Know Where You’re Going
Always choose a kayaking location that is safe for your child. Avoid waterfalls, rapids, strong currents and other potentially dangerous areas. Instead kayak in a sheltered cove or a slow-moving river where there’s no risk of anyone getting swept away. If you do find yourself in trouble during kayaking, make sure your child knows how to use the paddle to swim back to shore.
Teach Your Child How to Enter and Exit the Kayak
Before going kayaking with your little one, be sure they understand the correct way to get into and out of their kayak as well as what to do if they end up falling overboard. While kayaks are fairly stable boats, it only takes a second for an accident to happen, so it’s important to be prepared.
Be Prepared for Emergencies
Depending on where you kayak and what the conditions are like, kayaking can be a dangerous activity. This is especially true for children who might not have as much kayaking experience as adults do. If something does go wrong, make sure your child knows how to use their paddle properly and that they always keep hold of it while kayaking. Teach them how to signal for help as well as what the universal distress signal is in kayaking situations. Also make sure you both know how to contact emergency services if needed and that everyone has a working cell phone with them on the kayak.
Learn How Your Kid Can Help
Kids love being part of the kayaking process, but they might not always understand how their help can make kayaking even more fun. So before you head out on the water, discuss with your child what they can do to keep kayaking safe. For example, if you’re kayaking in a group and someone goes overboard, your child can let the kayak paddle go and grab onto one of the kayaks that’s already floating nearby to help pull them back up again.
Always Stay Within Visual Contact
Kayaking is a great way to enjoy some beautiful views, but it’s important for kids to remember not to get too carried away. Make sure they always stay within visual contact of you as well as their kayak so they never drift out of sight or become lost. If kayaking in a group, agree upon a specific meeting spot so everyone knows where to go if they get lost or someone goes overboard.
Include Your Child in the Paddling: Kids love kayaking because it gives them the chance to be just like you and help paddle through the water. However, kayaking for extended amounts of time can become very tiring, so let your child have a turn paddling while you rest for a bit before taking over again. This is great kayaking exercise for kids that will get them excited about kayaking more often, too!
Find an Appropriate Location & Time of Year
Before heading out kayaking with your little one, make sure you choose an appropriate location and kayaking time of year. Kayaking is a great way to have fun in the sun, but avoid kayaking during high water periods or when there’s a chance of lightning since kayaks are often not seen by boaters on large lakes or rivers. If you kayak in salt water, make sure you pick times when the tides are low and try to kayak at locations where the waves aren’t too rough.
Kayaking can be an exciting activity for kids of all ages (even toddlers!). Just make sure you take some extra precautions during your kayaking trips with young children. Having more than one adult along on kayak excursions is always a good idea since it gives everyone someone else to help keep watch over little ones while they kayak and it makes kayaking more fun for everyone. So kayak up to the challenge and make kayaking safe and accessible for kids of all ages!