Outdoor Federation

What To Do If Kayak Tips Over?

Kayaking has become a favorite sport and hobby for most people for the past several years across the globe. Whether you are into whitewater kayaking or kayak fishing, your kayak can is the best way to get out and explore the rivers, lakes, and oceans.

what to do if kayak tips over

But before you plan your kayaking getaway, preparation is a must. One of the most important parts of this preparation is learning what to do if kayak tips over.

While capsizing isn’t something you can always avoid, knowing what to do once it happens can help you and your belongings safe and sound.

Continue reading to find out what you should do if your kayak tips over and how you can keep yourself prepared for this situation.

Do Kayaks Tip Over Easily?

In general, kayaks are safe to use. You have very little to worry about if you are paddling across a calm lake. You even need to try really hard just to flip your kayak. Traditional recreational kayaks are meant to be stable and won’t tip over easily without other factors that may come into play. However, there are instances when a kayak tipping over can actually happen.

What Conditions Can Make Kayak Tip Over?

Both weather and water conditions can affect your ability to keep your kayak steady and upright. As stated above, you need to try really hard to flip your kayak if you are paddling on calm water such as a protected bay, slow-moving river, or lake.

However, once you hit ocean waves or head down a rough river, it can increase the risks of your kayak tipping over. Conditions of the water can also make a significant difference in your overall kayaking experience.

The weather conditions can also make your kayak tip over, specifically wind. Strong winds in some areas can even pick up without any warning at all. A large gust of wind at the wrong angle or time can make your kayak tip over. Wind also results in choppy water conditions that may result in navigating larger waves.

To put it simply both water and weather conditions play a big role in how easily your kayak can tip over.

What Should You Do If Your Kayak Tips Over?

Even if you give your best efforts, kayaking means you will get a bit wet sometimes. Although preventive measures can help, there is still a risk of your kayak tipping over that can be very risky.

To fully enjoy your kayaking trip and stay safe throughout, here are the best things to do if your kayak tips over:

Wear a Personal Flotation Device at All Times

It is always best practice to put on your personal floatation devices every time you go kayaking, even more so if you tip over. Life jackets can help you stay afloat once you enter the water. PFDs are lifesavers if your kayak flips over as these will let you float with the kayak rather than wasting your precious energy trying to get yourself out of the water.

Flip the Kayak Upright

Depending on how deep the water is, you might not be able to flip the kayak back to its upright position. Once the kayak flips, chances are it is still filled with lots of air. It means that trying to flip this in deep water will only make it fill up, making it more difficult for you to push it back to the shore.

When your kayak tips over, swimming it to shallower water or back to the shore will allow you to flip it back over and drain out any water left. Swimming the kayak back to shore also makes it easier for you to reenter the kayak.

In case getting to shore is out of the equation because you are too far from it, your next best option is flipping your kayak while in deep water. to do this, you can try several ways depending on the strength you have. Some might be able to float to one side of their kaya and push over and up one side to turn it. Your second option is getting under the kayak, grabbing the cockpit’s rims then pushing it over.

You can also include a portable small hand pump as part of your kayaking gear. It is a piece of equipment that lets you drain water from the kayak with no need to make a trip back to shore.

person touching body of water

Reenter Your Kayak

After your kayak goes back into its upright position, you should now reenter it and go on your way. The method of reentering your kayak depends on where it was flipped over. For instance, if you managed to swim back to shallow water or shore, you can simply step back into the kayak and continue to paddle. But if you are in deeper water, you might find it more challenging to reenter your kayak.

Your kayak can easily tip back upside down once again if you climb back in from any of the sides. The best thing to do is reach over the cockpit then hold on to the other side as you pull yourself up. After re-entering your kayak, you should go back to a seated position. Move slowly to maintain your balance.

Signal for Help When Needed

If you are kayaking with other people, you can have someone to help you if your kayak tips over. But if you are on your own and you are having a hard time flipping your kayak or the paddle ended up floating downstream, signaling for help is your next best option.

In times like this, carrying a whistle is a wise thing to do. If you got one, blow it three short times then pause before blowing three more to send a signal to people or other boaters in the area. if no whistle is handy, wave your paddle or hands high in the air to alert the nearby boaters for them to know you need help and come to you right away.

It is all too easy to panic if your kayak tips over but more than anything else, the best thing to do is remain calm and composed. Panicking will only worsen your situation. Keep your wits about you to continue with a safe adventure!