Kayaking involves risks that may prevent return to shore – so you should take some additional steps for safety. Conditions change quickly at sea and your training and equipment are your greatest aids to survival.

Top safety tips for kayaks:

Make sure your kayak is fit for purpose

Make sure you suited to you and fit for purpose for the conditions. Be aware of its limitations and learn from owners and retailers. Make sure it has hand toggles, bulkheads, a pump, compass/map, spare paddle, deck lines and a firm-fitting spray skirt.


You must wear a lifejacket when paddling craft such as a kayak, canoe, surf ski, raft or rowboat. You’ll also need a way to remove water from your vessel.

Offshore paddling kit

An essential kit includes ways to call for help (phone in waterproof pouch, VHF marine radio, personal locator beacon), first-aid kit (with necessary skills), accessible water and food, warm dry clothing in a dry bag, and a repair kit suited to the boat and trip.

Capsize prevention

Learn support and bracing strokes. If you fall out, stay with the kayak. Learn paddle float rescue, roll or re-enter and roll. For best self-rescue, learn the Eskimo roll.

Assisted rescue

Carry a 15-metre tow rope, knowing when – and when not – to use it. Learn and practice essential rescue skills by seeking instruction on various methods of rescuing and being rescued.


This is critical for enjoyment and survival. If weather or sea conditions worsen, you may need energy in reserve to complete your journey. Be conservative in your plans until you have suitable fitness and experience.