2017-06-08 / Community

Kayak safety urged as summer approaches

By Cindy Centofanti
Staff Writer • ccentofanti@mihomepaper.com


This canoeist isn’t wearing a life jacket. Local law enforcement agencies are urging those who enjoy watercraft activities take safety precautions. 
Photo by Cindy Centofanti This canoeist isn’t wearing a life jacket. Local law enforcement agencies are urging those who enjoy watercraft activities take safety precautions. Photo by Cindy Centofanti PORT AUSTIN - With one death and more than seven reported incidents involving kayaks in the past year, local law enforcement agencies are educating members of the community how to properly practice this popular recreational activity.

The Huron County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that in the past several years, the county’s north shore has become a popular kayaking destination. However, the shores have also been the scene of many emergency situations involving kayaks, which includes one death and multiple near death experiences.

Last summer, Christopher Peterson, 42, was kayaking with his wife, Sarah Peterson, and their two sons, ages 5 and 8, when their kayak started taking on water. The wife and two sons were rescued, but an Christopher Peterson drowned.

The Huron County Sheriff’s office, the Coast Guard and civilian boaters searched for hours before his body was located in about 14 feet of water by a private boater.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly J. Hanson wishes to inform kayak enthusiasts that it is incredibly easy to be overtaken by hypothermia as water temperatures are only in the mid to upper 50s during summer months.

Kayakers also need to know their physical limits while kayaking, along with understanding exactly what type of sea conditions their kayak can handle.

Hanson said near the shore, southerly breezes can leave a false impression of favorable boating conditions, but further offshore, the waves and currents increase - and it becomes increasingly difficult to return to shore.

He also said that under no circumstance should anyone venture out without a properly fitting life jacket. In many of the cases the sheriff’s office assists on, the most common causes kayaking accidents are overturning or falling overboard. Hanson said that in most of those particular instances, the majority of kayakers weren’t wearing life jackets.

Another important safety tip that Hanson stresses, besides having a life jacket and wearing proper attire, is that kayakers carry a cellular phone in a water-proof container.

Lastly, he said, another safety precaution to take is to always let someone on shore know where you’re going and when you’re supposed to be back.

Many enjoyable summer time memories have occurred on the water in kayaks. Don’t risk allowing a tragic situation to unfold simply because safety was taken for granted, Hanson said.

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