Safety is No Accident
A weekly series of safety tips by Phil Boyer
Having float bags in your boat is taking a proactive approach to helping your fellow paddlers rescue you and your gear more safely and quickly. Float bags are an essential part of your kayaking equipment. A boat with float bags is much safer, simpler and faster to rescue. It will float higher and lighter making it easier and faster to tow the boat and get it up on shore. The boat will have less potential to sink, pin, or wrap around rocks. It will be easier for the team members to spot while giving chase, and easier to empty whether you are still in your boat, on shore, or in a small cramped area of the river.
In contrast, if you have ever chased a boat without float bags after a kayaker swam, then you know how difficult and dangerous it can be to get the boat to shore. A boat filled with water does not float well if at all. Most likely, it will careen off of rocks above and below the surface until it pins deep making it difficult to retrieve if at all possible. A boat filled with water makes it very difficult and dangerous for the other paddlers to get the boat to shore quickly. The boat will be heavy and once a tow line is attached the current can easily pull a boat full of water and the rescuer down stream into the next set of rapids. While towing a water-filled boat it is more likely to pin, wrap around rocks and logs, or, the tow line can wrap around a rock while stranding the tower on one side and the boat on the other. Situations like these can be very dangerous for the rescuer. The dangers are real and can escalate fast. The rescue of a single boat can turn into a very critical situation requiring team members of the original rescue to respond quickly and sometimes hastily to the new and maybe more dangerous scene.
Remember what I wrote earlier, an easy rescue situation can escalate rapidly if we do not pay attention to safety. There are many tragic stories in which the person rescuing the boat was injured or died because of a complication with a water-filled boat.
Remember, Safety is no accident.
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