Kayak Safety Tips – Sun and Heat Protection

Kayaking is as thrilling as it is relaxing. It can either be a source of serenity as you paddle through tranquil mountain lakes or a thrilling experience as you tumble down a harrowing white-water river. But while being out on the water is undoubtedly liberating, you need to stay safe—especially against sun exposure and dehydration.

Before putting your skin and health on the line, here are a few safety tips for sun and heat protection:

  1. Hot Weather Clothing – Dress for the Occasion

You’re out in the open water; the sky is clear—albeit a lone cloud in the horizon; the sun rays feel like a furnace. If you’re not well prepared and equipped, kayaking could quickly turn into a painfully unpleasant experience.

One of the obvious ways to protect your skin from scorching sun rays is being mindful of what you wear. But contrary to common assumptions, a t-shirt and shorts are not the way to go. Instead, wear trousers and long-sleeved tops to minimize direct exposure to the sun. Look for something breathable, light, and moisture-wicking to keep you as cool as possible. You can also consider gearing up with sunproof clothing with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating above 50. Look out for our soon to be released Galaxy Kayaks UV long sleeve shirt which is ideal for sun protection.

Quick Tip: Avoid cotton clothing like the plague! It may be a relatively cool material in some situations, but it also tends to hold moisture as you sweat it out in the water.

  1. Stay Hydrated – Water is Life!

It’s ironic that one of the most common problems in kayaking is the risk of dehydration. As the old saying goes, “Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink.” You may be waddling in miles of water, but it’s often either unsafe for human consumption or salty.

Kayaking and other water sports are typical strenuous and they lead to an excessive loss of body fluids through breathing, sweating, and urinating. Signs of dehydration when kayaking in hot weather include fatigue, headaches, dry mouth, and even dizziness in severe cases. Therefore, it is crucial for paddlers to carry a supply of drinkable water (preferably cooled).

Consider pre-hydrating before you set off into the water and gradually drink a few ounces every hour (PS: Spacing out water consumption maximizes its absorption). And avoid drinking diuretics like tea, coffee, or alcohol; they defeat the purpose of hydration. Look out for our Galaxy can sock which is great for keeping bottles and cans nice and cool.

  1. Accessorize!

Accessories add a dimension of sophistication and style to an attire. In kayaking, they also enhance the functionality of the clothes. Case in point; sunglasses, hats, and a sun mask to ward off the sun rays.

Always have some polarized sunglasses with you on a sunny day. They’re designed to protect you from the sun’s glare, which reflects off the water and irritates your eyes—similar to snow blindness. Another indispensable accessory is a wide-brimmed hat to prevent overexposure to harmful rays by keeping your face in the shade. Talking of shade…

  1. The Shade is Your Friend

What is your first reaction when you get hot in the middle of a field? Find a shade under tree or nearby building, right? This basic principle also applies to paddlers. While planning your kayaking route, keep tabs on the weather forecast.

If you expect a sunny day, stick to kayaking routes that offer a decent amount of tree cover to protect you from the sun. But as you can guess, this mostly applies to river kayakers. Sea or lake kayakers may have to explore some of the other tips in this article—especially the next one.

  1. Time Your Trips – Avoid Sunny Mid-Days

The sun is hottest when it’s directly above us – i.e., 12pm. The logical thing would be to avoid kayaking at this time unless you want to fry in the open water. Therefore, plan ahead and steer clear of kayaking trips from 10 am to around 4 pm.  This means that the best time to head out is in the early morning or later afternoon when you’re less susceptible to the harmful effects of UV exposure.

  1. A Little Sunscreen Goes a Long Way

The sun is great! Nothing beats the feeling of waking up in the morning and soaking in the infant rays emanating from the horizon. Well, except the tranquillity that characterizes kayaking. But despite its many benefits, the sun’s rays are also harmful. Excessive exposure may lead to heat stroke, blistering, premature aging, and even an increased risk of skin cancer.

In addition to hot weather clothing, sunglasses, and a hat; cover the remaining parts of your skin with a generous amount of sunscreen. Whether you opt for spray or lotion, just ensure the product you pick has an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 30. And reapply liberally while paddling as need be.


What’s the Takeaway?

Don’t ruin your kayaking adventure by being underprepared! Stay updated on the weather forecast; always plan ahead, never leave a bottle of water behind, and dress to impress with the right gear. These simple steps are the key to kayaking safety.

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