In whitewater kayaking, there are inherent risks just as in any outdoor activity. Knowing your risks and what to do if you get into trouble is the best way to keep yourself safe and to minimize the risks.
Hazards on the Water
On-the-water hazards can be anything from rocks to trees and branches. Before hitting a new route for the first time, do a bit of research on the known hazards that are on the route. Always be prepared for new hazards that may come up because of low or high water levels and other changing conditions.
The temperature on whitewater rapids will vary but more than likely you will want a wetsuit, booties and other protection. Even if you don’t have to roll the kayak, you will get wet from water splash and other sources. Hypothermia sets in quickly, especially in the colder canyons where the sun doesn’t hit the water.
Even the most experienced kayakers get into trouble on the water from time to time. Before you go out, have a plan for if your boat tips. Paddling with a buddy can help if you get stuck in a difficult situation. Life jackets are essential when whitewater kayaking.
Maintain control of your kayak at all times so you can avoid other paddlers. Always make sure you are paddling defensively and take the rapids one at a time if you are with friends.
Change in the Weather
Check the forecast and water levels before you head out and prepare accordingly. If you know the area is prone to afternoon thunderstorms, hit the rapids earlier.