Why Should I Keep an Emergency Kit With Me On My Paddling Trips

by Jessica Beckett

I have found that the true answer to this blog’s question is because 90% of the time it is used for myself! NO JOKE!  Most of the injuries and scars I have acquired are from personal mishaps.  I actually have a VIP card from all of the emergency rooms I have visited over the years. (Not really but I think you get my point.)

The most minor of injuries that happen on the water or on shore can truly ruin your day.  Whether you face plant while exiting your kayak or canoe, get a blister while paddling a 21 mile trip, or you come face to face with a rock while attempting to roll back to oxygen rich air, you WILL encounter a need for a good emergency/survival kit.  Trust me, becoming one with nature from under your boat can be beautiful but the head and face are no match for natures hard landscape.

Shoulder dislocation on the water?  Been there done that.  Getting stung or bitten by a wasp or bee while eating your lunch?  I’ve done that too.  How about those freaky blisters you may develop on your hands on a long trip (where bad paddling habits may come back to haunt you.)?  Trust me, I have wanted to be Life-Flighted out of my boat at times.  (Now THAT would be an embarrassing story, right?) 

Dislocations, bites and stings, minor and major cuts and scrapes, blisters, broken or sprained limbs are just some of the mishaps and injuries that can happen and WILL happen at some point in your paddling career.  The mindset you need to adopt is “It’s not a matter of  IF but WHEN” something will happen.  The key is to ALWAYS be prepared.

I carry an emergency/survival kit in my kayaks, my car and my home.  My go to kits are from Adventure Medical Kits from Hook1 Outfitters .  They have a variety of kits that fit everyone’s needs including your four legged furry family member (aka…..the dog).  There are also waterproof versions in various sizes as well.  These kits include everything from simple bandaids, gauzes and etc., to moleskin and gel pads for blisters, splints and bandages, after bite and sting wipes, to aspirin, suture kits as well as medication.  Things I add to my arsenal are Huggies Butt Wipes (I’m sure you’re laughing  but please take your trash and leave no trace.), bandanna, my old shoulder sling, extra contacts and my eyeglasses.

Something else to keep with you is emergency contact info on the area you will be paddling.  Always ALWAYS let someone know where you will be. Include put- in and take -out info as well as a window of time you may be gone.  Keep your phone dry and safe somewhere with you if you can.  Be aware of where you are and never be embarrassed to seem over prepared. 

Trust me. Always be proactive.  There will be sometime you or someone you are paddling with will be glad you are thinking ahead.

Later in the season we will be talking about putting together a “Ditch Kit” aka bailout bag, bugout kit or survival kit.  These are intended to sustain a stranded paddler for an unexpected stay possibly overnight or a few days.

Paddle safe, be prepared and be aware!  See you on the water!

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