Safety always should be first when recreating about Great Lakes

In Wednesday’s Journal, it was reported that one man kayaking on Lake Michigan was rescued Monday, while another man drowned after their kayak overturned in rough waters off of the Schoolcraft County mainland

Dispatchers had received a report at 3:30 p.m. Monday from a man who said his son and a friend had gone kayaking in Lake Michigan and their kayak had overturned, with strong wind preventing the men from returning to shore.

According to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources press release, the man said he could see both kayakers, neither of which had a life jacket, bobbing in the 50-degree water next to the kayak.

Upon arrival, DNR Conservation Officer Mike Evink launched his jet ski from the beach and was able to locate and rescue one of the kayakers in the water with help from EMS personnel.

The rescued man, who was from Oxford, Michigan was taken to the hospital.

With the summer weather finally upon us and outdoor recreation at its zenith, it’s important to remind the public to always use precautions when boating on the Great Lakes.

The US Coast Guard offered some tips on proper safety for your water adventures in an interview with canoekayak.com:

≤ A personal flotation device, or life jacket, should be worn at all times. On the off chance you end up in the water, a PFD may save your life. Make sure your PFD fits comfortably; Type III is generally recommended for paddle sports.

≤ Wear bright and noticeable clothing to be visible to other boaters.

≤ The tides and currents change throughout the day and depending on the weather may be stronger at certain times. Even if you are familiar with a particular waterway, it is still important to make sure tides, currents, and weather are checked shortly before departing on a trip.

Be aware of the air and water temperature, if either is less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, wearing fleece layers or possibly a drysuit is recommended. Being immersed in water as warm as 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit can initiate cold water shock.

≤ If there is low visibility due to fog or darkness, it is best to stay off the water. This is especially critical for smaller non-self propelled craft.

≤ If you capsize in cold water it is best to huddle instead of swim to shore unless the depth is shallow enough to walk ashore. The body’s first reflex is to gasp for air, increase heart rate and blood pressure, all of which may lead to cardiac arrest. Chances are the water will not be calm and the exhaustion of swimming will increase your heat loss more swiftly.

Another article from paddling.com says to practice re-entering your kayak from the water before you ever need to do it for real. One thing that I can tell you is that re-entering a sit-on-top kayak is a lot easier than re-entering a sit-inside kayak because it won’t swamp. In fact, just emptying your sit-inside kayak is a major ordeal on the water, especially if you don’t have a bulkhead in your kayak.

And a bulkhead is simply a wall in the kayak to divide into separate compartments so the whole thing won’t swamp if you flip. Whatever type of kayak that you are using, if you can’t confidently re-enter your kayak from the water then it only makes sense to stay close enough to shore that you can comfortably swim if needed.