Of all the Las Vegas activities you can participate in, kayaking tops the list. After all, nothing beats a glorious afternoon paddling down the Colorado River with family and friends. To make the most of your Las Vegas kayak experience, you’ll want to know some basic safety tips for when you are out on the water, regardless of whether you are paddling solo or venturing down the river with others.
Use a Life Jacket
According to the American Canoe Association, nearly half of all kayaking fatalities result from not wearing a personal flotation device. For canoers, that statistic is even higher. Simply investing in a life jacket and taking several seconds to put it on before you get out in the water can save your life! If you need help selecting a life jacket, you can always ask the experts at Blazin’ Paddles for recommendations or follow guidelines on personal flotation devices set by the US Coast Guard. No matter what brand of life jacket you choose, be sure to get one that is specifically made for kayaking for maximum safety and comfort.
Wear a Helmet
If you will be kayaking in rougher conditions such as fast-flowing rivers, you may want to wear head protection. Some locations may even require you to wear a helmet when you are out boating. As with a life jacket, you’ll want to look for a comfortable helmet, fits snugly, and is designed for kayaking. A kayaking helmet should also be waterproof, which is important for the helmet’s safety and longevity.
Choose Your Spot
The ideal spot for your Las Vegas kayak outing varies depending on your abilities, experience, skill level, and goals. No matter where you choose to start, your chosen launch spot should have numerous places to go ashore, minimal boat traffic, and easy access for launching. If you are not yet comfortable loading and unloading the boat on your own, ask a friend or fellow kayaker to go with you for assistance. If you’re new to kayaking, it never hurts to have another person out on the water with you, either.
Along with having easy access to the water, look for a kayaking spot that has shallow waters for launching. You should also aim to launch in calmer waters, such as tranquil rivers, ponds, or quiet lakes if you are new to kayaking. As your skills improve, you can start in areas with choppier waters, windy places, and streams or rivers with small waves.
Dress for the Weather
When you’re planning outdoor activities in Las Vegas, it’s important to dress for the weather. Temperatures can get very hot during the day, especially in the summer, but they can be significantly lower in the morning and evening. Therefore, it’s a good idea to dress in layers to prepare for fluctuating temperatures. Additionally, you’ll want to either wear clothing with sun protection or use sunscreen, as you may be exposed to the sun for long periods out on the water. If your eyes are sensitive to the sun’s rays, consider wearing protective eye wear as well. The footwear that you use for kayaking should be comfortable, water-resistant, and not slippery. No matter when and where you are planning to kayak, always check the weather forecast before heading out. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms or severe weather, consider other things to do in Las Vegas for the day and save kayaking for a clear day.
Follow the Rules
As with driving a car, there are “rules of the road” that boaters must follow on waterways. If you’re boating alone, look up the local boating rules in advance. Along with knowing the local regulations, it’s always a good idea to wear brightly colored clothing for visibility and put reflective tape on your paddles. You should also wear a whistle around your neck or otherwise keep it within close reach. If you are kayaking in a spot with buoys, make sure you know what the colors mean.
Getting into and out of your kayak onshore may not seem that difficult, but re-entering your boat on the water can be a different story. If you fall out or flip your boat on the water, learning to climb back in and turn the boat right-side up can be challenging. Before heading out on a more serious kayaking adventure or kayaking alone, practice re-entering in a safe place with calm waters.
Practice Safety Maneuvers
At the very least, you should know three safety maneuvers when kayaking:
- Wet entry
- Eskimo roll
Capsizing is one of the primary risks when kayaking. If you are kayaking in a sit-in kayak or using a spray skirt, you’ll need to learn how to release the skirt when you’re in the water and propel yourself out of the cockpit. After you’ve capsized, the next step is getting back in. If you are just learning to re-enter your boat, try to find a buddy who can stabilize your boat as you climb back in. The Eskimo roll is a more advanced maneuver that involves righting your kayak after capsizing while remaining in the boat. This technique should be learned by a skilled instructor and practiced in a pool or still waters to start.
Check Your Equipment
Before each outing in your kayaking, check your equipment to make sure it is working properly. That includes giving your boat a physical inspection and checking your personal safety equipment including your life jacket and a helmet if you plan to use one.
Although it’s natural to get caught up in the breathtaking scenery around Las Vegas, remember to stay aware of your surroundings when you’re out kayaking. Before you leave, tell others about your plans and your approximate itinerary.
For kayak safety tips or to perfect your kayaking skills, contact Blazin’ Paddles. Blazin’ Paddles offers half-day to full-day kayaking tours led by experienced professional guides. A tour is a great way to learn about local kayaking hot spots while meeting new people and building your confidence and skills.