Kayaking with Disabilities

Kayaking with Disabilities

In a world where the outdoors is so often seen as an exclusive place for those without disabilities, it’s important to recognize that there are many ways to enjoy nature. Kayaking is one of these ways in which individuals with disabilities can have fun while being active. Don’t allow disability define you or the way you want to live. So, help you out, here we have listed some tips that people with disabilities should try to make their kayaking experience more engaging and enthralling –

1. Benefits of Kayaking with Disabilities

It is important for people with disabilities to get out and enjoy nature in whatever way that they can, whether that means kayaking or something else. Most health experts think – “it’s even more important for disabled people to be active”. In his article about the importance of exercise for people with disabilities, Heidi Godman, the Executive Editor of Harvard Health Letter has pointed out that physical activity has been shown to improve learning, memory, mood, sleep, heart health and many other areas of human life. Getting outside also helps with anxiety and depression which are issues that disabled individuals deal with at a higher rate than others.

When a person who does not have disabilities gets out into nature, they can take advantaged of all the benefits associated with being outside while also getting exercise. However, if a disabled person wishes to kayak or go on any other outdoor adventure, they may not be able to do it alone due to their disability. This can lead them to feel like they are incapable of enjoying nature, which is why it is important that people with disabilities join groups who frequently kayak together.

2. Equipment Needed for Kayaking with Disabilities

When a disabled person is going kayaking with a group, it’s important that they have access to the same equipment as everyone else. For example, if someone has some type of visual impairment, it would be beneficial for them to bring along an assistant who can act as their eyes on shore. A guide dog may also be useful in this instance.

For those who do not require any special requirements when kayaking with disabilities, having the proper safety equipment is key to ensuring that everyone makes it back safely. Kayaking without wearing a life jacket can be extremely dangerous, especially if the water is choppy or there are other natural hazards present.

Those who are kayaking with disabilities should also take into consideration what types of kayaks would work best for them. Some kayaks are specially designed for physically disabled people to use, which can make it much easier to paddle around in and control the boat than a standard one would. There may even be some equipment on board that will help those with disabilities enjoy kayaking more, such as saddle seats and foot braces. With the proper equipment and safety measures, along with an assistant or two to help out however necessary, anyone who does not have all of their limbs – regardless of any disability they may experience – can kayak safely and have a great time doing so.

3. Tips and Tricks

One of the most important things for any kayaker to do is stay calm. If a person panics, they are more likely to drown even if they have all of their limbs! So firstly, it’s important that people with disabilities try not let themselves get too worked up about the possibility of anything going wrong out on the water.

Once they’ve done this, here are some practical tips for disabled kayakers who may want to go out again in the future:

Bring Someone Along Who Can Help You

This isn’t necessary for all disabilities, but it does ensure that everyone comes back home safe and sound. A friend, family member, or assistant can help out with ferrying the kayak across long distances so that you don’t have to try and do it on your own. They may also be useful in performing rescues if you find yourself stuck at sea (which hopefully won’t happen!)

Bring Along Any Equipment You Might Need

Some people with disabilities feel capable of kayaking on their own; however, if they require some type of special equipment then this should definitely be taken along as well. For example, someone who has seizures may need to take medicine for them before going out on the boat.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

For those who kayak regularly and don’t have disabilities, it may seem natural for them to simply go out and enjoy themselves whenever they please. However, with a disability this is often not as easy and straightforward as it might initially seem. Getting fully used to kayaking takes time and requires dedication; you can’t just pick up a paddle and hope for the best if you’ve never done it before – especially if you’re going alone or with strangers. So practicing at least once or twice before actually going out into the water is important in order to gain confidence as well as learn some practical skills.

Have Fun!  

This goes without saying of course, but everyone should try to have a good time when they’re kayaking – whether they have disabilities or not. Kayaking is meant to be fun, and it’s even better when you get the opportunity to go out on the water with family members or other people who are important to you.

Safety Precautions

Always Wear a Life Vest

This is an essential safety measure that all kayakers must take when they head out on the water. No matter how close to shore you are or whether or not your boat has been properly set up, it only takes a second for something to go wrong and result in an accident. So in order to fully prevent anything bad from happening, a life vest should always be worn when going kayaking with others – especially if there’s a chance of sudden storms or strong waves!

Use Proper Kayaking Equipment

Decent paddles, good back rests, large cockpits (easier to get into), foot braces (if needed), comfortable seats… these are just some examples of the kinds of things that should be taken into consideration when purchasing a kayak. They’re very important elements to look for as they can make the boat much more accessible and user-friendly – something which is crucial if you have disabilities and plan on going out in your kayak again!

Be Aware of Any Physical Restrictions

As we touched upon before, it’s not always possible for all disabled kayakers to take part in the activity without using certain equipment (e.g., wheelchairs, crutches) or assistance from their friends or family members. Yet there are plenty of other people who do go out on the water alone; so if this is you then still think about what might happen if you fell overboard and needed rescuing. Since you won’t have anyone there to pull you out of the water, make sure that your kayak has been equipped with all necessary means of self-rescue  in case something were to happen.

Have a Backup Plan in Case of Emergencies

It goes without saying that having a backup plan is essential in pretty much every situation imaginable. Kayaking is no exception. There are many things that could go wrong when practicing this sport – especially if you are alone or have an unexpected accident – so being prepared is vital . Think about what would happen if you fell out of your boat, or if your kayak capsized, or if you lost sight of your friends… It’s best to be overly cautious rather than underprepared; because let’s face it; there are many uncertainties in life , and going out on the water can make those uncertainties a lot more extreme .

Posted by
Arthur G. Moore

Arthur G. Moore is a veteran paddler. He has over 10 years of whitewater kayaking experience in his kitty. When he was young, he used to love kayaking in rapid III and rapid IV but as time went on, he decided to concentrate mainly on covering long distances on a standard touring kayak. He is currently working as a senior editor for Kayak Manual.

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