Kayaking

Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. If it can’t be reached in an emergency, it’s no help.

Kayaking is great fun and one of the most popular boating activities in the UK and Ireland. The number of kayakers and canoeists who get into trouble and need to be rescued has increased significantly over the last few years with the RNLI lifeboats rescuing 181 kayakers last year.

Here are some top tips to enjoy kayaking safely:

  • Always carry a means of calling for help and keep it within reach. If it can’t be reached in an emergency, it’s no help.
  • Wear a personal flotation device.
  • Check the weather and tides.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the conditions and your trip.
  • Get some training: contact your local canoe club and look for coaching sessions run by a British Canoeing or Canoeing Ireland coach.

What is the best means for calling for help? Here are some options:

Personal locator beacon (PLB)

A PLB can send a distress message to the Coastguard from anywhere in the world, providing there is a clear view of the sky. The Coastguard will launch the appropriate rescue service to your GPS position.

Mobile phone

Always take a fully charged mobile phone in a waterproof pouch when kayaking. Consider using the RYA Safe Trx app (UK) or ISA SafeTrx (Republic of Ireland) apps to track and log your passage and alert your emergency contact if you fail to return before your ETA. If you get into trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard. Be aware that many areas of coast do not have mobile phone signal, so an alternative means of calling for help may be better.

Waterproof handheld VHF

A waterproof DSC VHF allows you to send a distress message with your location direct to the Coastguard with a single button push. You then follow this with a voice call on channel 16, which is broadcast to all VHF radios in the area.

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