Safety Tips For Paddlers From An Instructor: ‘Everyone will swim at one point or another’

We first told you about a water rescue at Wall Lake Tuesday. A camp counselor was kayaking, when authorities say the kayak took on water. The group she was with called 911 when they couldn’t see her. She was found in the water a short time later uninjured. Authorities say the life jacket she was wearing possibly prevented a tragedy from happening. KDLT’s Jill Johnson has some tips on how to stay safe while in the water.

“Amazing wildlife. Amazing tranquility. It’s a really calming experience when you’re on the water,” said American Canoe Association Kayak Instructor Cory Diedrich.

Diedrich started kayaking more than a decade ago. He says paddling sports are catching on; now one of the fastest growing sporting industries in the country.

“They get on the water and they think they’re good to go and there is things people should know.” Diedrich said, “It’s a relatively safe sport as long as you take the very primary and basic precautions.”

The first is when it comes to buying a boat.

“Some boats are great on flat waters and smaller rivers, and those same boats you wouldn’t dare take on the Missouri River or a bigger lake,” Diedrich said.

Deidrich says many aren’t filled with air bags like this one.

“Blow a beach ball up halfway. Shove it in the back. Get several of them in the back. Get a few up in front. It will do the same thing and it dramatically improves the safety of that boat,” said Diedrich.

Before even taking a boat in the water, Diedrich says you should have a life jacket on. Not just any jacket though; one specific to paddlers. Many even come with whistles to alert someone if you do go under.

“That is the one thing that I see people fail to do constantly in his community and quite frankly across the United States.”

Diedrich says jackets for paddlers provide a better range of motion, different than those made for skiers.

“That (pictured to the left) is an ill fitting life jacket, and in the event of a rescue, if someone were to grab you by the life jacket potentially they could pull the life jacket right off of you.”

Diedrich says many people end up in the water because they’re not paying attention to their body position.

“They move their upper body off the center line of the kayak.”

Diedrich says in the last 12 years, even he has gone over. He says it’s important to know what to do, not if, but when it happens.

“Everyone will swim at one point or another,” Diedrich said.

Diedrich also suggests having a paddle plan. Let someone know where you’re going, and when you’ll be back, so they know when they should call for help.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, more than 700 people died in boating related accidents last year. Nearly 30 percent of them were paddlers.

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