Top 5 recommended ‘communication safety’ bits of kit for kayakers

5 safety tips for kayakers

Below is a list of 5 recommended pieces of equipment for Kayakers – Especially sea kayakers.

  1. A whistle – this can carry a lot further then voice and ensures others understand there’s an issue. Aim to get a good loud 3 single whistle blasts to indicate an emergency issue (3 for swimming pools  |  6 for outdoors.)
  2. Mobile phone – this needs to be in a waterproof bag/case, be aware modern phones without the buttons are rubbish when your hands are wet. Some kayakers carry an older type rescue phone such as the good old Nokia with buttons. Be aware of poor signals and that the phone will jump to any band for emergency calls.
  3. Radios (non VHF) – can be useful, they do come as waterproof  but they never seem to transmit as far as advertised. Be aware though, water can block the mics and distort even waterproof radios.
    3b. Radios (VHF) Note: in order to use a VHF radio legally,  you’ll need to complete a VHF radio course. (I organised one this year for Essex clubs) Purchase of a licence and a radio is going to cost around £300.00, but they are good and do prevent many issues. I have had mine 6-7 years with no issues, they can transmit to coast guard and other water users, some also have a dedicated emergency distress button. A few Maldon CC members have just purchased some very good radios with mics to clip on to Buoyancy aids and a number of additional benefits. Its always worth asking others what they are using.
  4. Flares  – a must for those doing awards (Note: these do go out of date, so always check to see if they are in date) There’s a few different flares; there’s an orange and a red smoke flare can come as a double flare – orange one end and red the other. There’s also a parachute flare, this is a serious bit of kit which fires the flare into the air 1000mtr+  with a loud bang and highly visible. There are now some electric flares available which reduces the danger of carrying conventional flares.
  5. Personal location Beacon (PLB) – these have been around a few years now and are into the acceptable price range around of £230.00. They use satellites to send a distress signal to the emergency services, they also have satellite GPS location functionality, allowing the coastguard to pin point your location. Most PLB’s come with a seven year battery guarantee and they are also handy for those that go climbing/hiking in the hills and mountains.

A number of club members have been looking at the Ocean signal PLB. Tony Cumbers has researched these and looking for the best deal which is currently Marine super store (02392 219433) who are selling them a £209.95 (yes please Santa) Fortunatly, Santa came early for me, I now have one if anyone would like to view.

Hope you find this useful
Clive