Coast Guard urges water safety on kayaks, paddle boards

Posted at 5:30 PM, Apr 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-28 17:44:49-04

We’re all looking for ways to get outside while still practicing social distancing.

Now that it’s getting warmer, that means a lot more people will probably be out kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding.

The Coast Guard says they want people to get out on the water, but they want them to do it safely.

Capt. Kevin Carroll, Commander, Sector Virginia, says one of the things you need before heading out is a float plan.

That means letting someone know where you’re going and when you plan to come back.

You should also tag your gear by putting stickers with your name and number on them.

If your kayak or oars get swept away and the Coast Guard finds them, Capt. Carroll says they treat it as if someone is missing in the water, so being able to call you to find out you’re okay saves a lot of resources.

He also says a big mistake a lot of people make is dressing for the air temperature instead of the water temperature.

If the water is below 60 degrees, you might have 10 minutes of ability before you start to lose dexterity.

Related: COVID-19 forcing many of us to head to our garage or the store to enjoy a family activity!

You should at least have a cellphone, but it’s better to have a handheld marine VHF radio so anyone in the area can help if you’re in distress.

Carrying a signaling device with you, such as a light or flare, can also make you more visible if you can't get a call out.

Once you're on the water, Capt. Carroll says a life jacket is one of the most important things you can have in an emergency, but you have to actually be wearing it.

"Majority of cases where people unfortunately lose their lives on the water is drowning, and of those 84% of people are not wearing a life jacket," said Capt. Carroll. "Sometimes people might complain that it’s a little bit cumbersome, they’re not as athletic if they’re wearing it, and I completely get that, but if you need it and you’re in the water, you’re absolutely going to be glad you have it."

Click here for full coronavirus coverage.