Risks and their Prevention
The risks related to sea trips are bigger compared to inland water bodies. Thus the security measures that might seem funny and pedantic at a first glance are actually essential.
Firs and foremost in our sea-kayaking trips is security. Before a trip we always give a thorough guidance and do not start a trip before we are convinced that you have acquired the elementary knowledge about sea-kayaking trips.
Risks of Nature
Wind is the main threat of sea-kayaking trips. The speed of the kayak depends to a large extent on the wind and if you paddle against the wind or before the wind. Big waves cased by the wind can also turn out to be dangerous. Since we kayak in many cases in bays, the direction of the wind is much more important than the strength of it. Kayaking is very possible in the bays even in the case of strong winds. We always consider weather forecast before the trips. If the wind is really very strong and we have to cancel the trip, we will agree about a new time or reimburse your money.
Cold water is not dangerous unless you fall into it. In case you flip over in a warm day you can bathe in the water for hours and nothing bad happens but in the case of cold water the opportunity for rescue is an issue of minutes. In the beginning of summer when the water is still cold, we organise the trips near the coastline. We organise many kilometres long kayaking trips across the sea only when the sea water is warmer.
Risks caused by participants
The biggest danger that you can cause to yourself and others is the consumption of alcohol or coming to a trip being intoxicated. When a person is intoxicated, perception will become worse and the risk of flipping over will increase. If one has flipped over, it is difficult to get an intoxicated person back to a kayak. The widely know logic of alcohol as a welll-know cold medicine is not true. Alcohol speeds blood circulation and expands blood-vessels. This means that a person will loose warmth in a cold environment more easily while being intoxicated. A n intoxicated person does not perceive hypothermia as a sober one. A small drink is appropriate in the evening near a fire but you have to be sober again the next day when you will sit in the kayak. An intoxicated hiker is dangerous to him/herself as well as to others.
Another bigger risk is the overestimation of your power and ignoring of guide’s signs. There is no more dangerous way of thinking than “let them speak, it will never happen to me”. There are many risks that you will only understand when you face them. Thus accidents tend to happen rather with kayakers in good shape but who overestimate their skills than with inexperienced and careful hikers.
Risks proceeding from the above-mentioned facts
Flipping over. A kayak is a much safer vehicle than one might think at a first glance. The kayaks we use are longer and narrower than canoes for instance and this will make them more wave-proof and they will not deviate from the route in case of wind. The bottom is wide enough to guarantee a firm feeling in the sea. In addition, keeping balance in a kayak is much easier than in a canoe due to paddle with two blades. Since we have also organised canoeing trips, we can confirm that flipping over happens seldom in kayaking trips than canoeing trips.
If you still happen to flip over, then the rule number one will be – we do not want to have more victims and thus the kayakers will be only helped by guides. The rest of the group has to keep in a reasonable distance. Due to storage compartments located in both ends of the kayak, the kayak stays on water very well and usually it takes less than ten minutes to get a kayaker back to the kayak.
Hypothermia can happen after flipping over or just due to cold weather. Hypothermia means decrease of a body’s temperature on a level where normal functioning of brain and muscles has been damaged. It can be prevented when you choose appropriate clothing for low temperatures, moisture, and wind; you drink and eat properly. You need to be attentive to others and yourself.