Rescued kayaker prompts watercraft safety tips

A woman was rescued from the Sinepuxent Bay Tuesday night after getting lost and stranded in her kayak. She was helicoptered to an area by the Verrazano Bridge and she didn’t suffer any injuries. While she’s reportedly fine and healthy, her ordeal can teach us all a lesson about staying safe when navigating our local waterways.

47 ABC spoke with Chief Ranger of Assateague Island, Walt West, who tells us, “You should have all the proper gear not only for the trip you have planned but for the unexpected.”

Whether it’s a boat, a canoe, or some other water-faring vessel, Chief West says if you’re heading out, you need to know what it can and cannot do.

West tells 47 ABC, “First you have to have the knowledge of the capabilities or in this case the limitations of the craft that you’re paddling…The big problem that we found after looking at the sequence of events that led up to this rescue was the type of equipment she used.”

The rescued kayaker was in a ten-footer which in generally meant for calm shallow waters, not the marshy area where she was paddling, so West advises that you know what your vessel is designed for. Another key? Life jackets. Paddling without one is not only extremely risky, it could be costly. If you are caught without one, the minimum penalty is $85 and the maximum is $500.

You should always wear high visibility clothing, and keep signal mirrors, flares on board as well as a communication device. The rescued kayaker called 911 but West says only relying on a cell phone can be a problem.

West tells 47 ABC, “Batteries go dead, signals go weak and so there are other signaling devices that you should have as a backup.”

While the proper equipment is important, so is your judgment. You should know your own skill-set and limitations. West advises that you never go out alone, especially overnight, and if you do, “The most critical thing is to let somebody that you know, know where you’re going, not only where you’re going but when you’re expected to return.”

If you would like more information on how to keep you and your family safe this summer you can do so by visiting the DNR website which is: http://www.dnr.sc.gov/boating/safety.html

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