As the summer comes to a close, many families will be squeezing in one more trip on the ocean, a back bay, or river. While out on the water, however, it is important to always pay attention to changing weather conditions, and to be prepared for any dangers.
Attached is an article about a family of five kayaking Lake Superior in Wisconsin over Labor Day weekend. The family of five was in a 13 foot open kayak. While the weather was initially calm at the departure, sudden changes in the wind and wave height posed challenges for the family. The kayak capsized, and only one member of the family survived.
While the cause of the disaster is still unknown, authorities speculate that an uneven weight distribution in the kayak and wave conditions caused the kayak to become unstable, and capsize. As the water was 62 degrees, hypothermia set in within 30 minutes of the capsizing. Cell phone service was spotty, and the one surviving member was unable to make contact with 911 at the time of the accident.
The family was fairly well prepared. All members were wearing life jackets, and one person had brought a cell phone and charts along.
The Coast Guard offered three important tips based on this accident:
- Share your travel plans. Make sure that someone on land knows your route and your times of departure and expected return. This information will help authorities in the rescue operation.
- Tools for Communication. Cell phones are not always reliable. The Coast Guard recommends that all vessels have a marine radio and a personal locating beacon, which can be used to send a GPS signal via satellite.
- Trust the Experts. Don’t try to kayak in unknown waters without a guide, especially if it’s your first time in a kayak.
This article illustrates that even prepared and experienced people can have problems. As you wrap up your summer with one last outdoor adventure, take the time to gather the proper tools, familiarize yourself with the route, check the weather, and designate a contact on land who knows your travel plans. Stay safe, and enjoy the end of summer!