Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)
When the weather gets warm, Northlanders are drawn to the water.
We have plenty of it to go around, even when there aren't floods raging.
According to Coast Guard statistics, more and more people, 300,000 new people per year, are hitting the water in kayaks.
Kayak dealer Russ Francisco agrees.
"Kayaking becomes more popular every year. Canoeing is holding it's own but kayaking is out of control! Everybody is going kayaking to get on the water. It's quick and easy and inexpensive and a lot of fun."
Like any boating activity, kayaking can become dangerous at times.
Coast Guard Station Duluth rescuers seem to have to help at least one kayaker a year.
Because of that, the Auxiliary portion of the Coast Guard now teaches a four hour safety course called "Paddle Sports America."
Tip one is to file a float plan before venturing out.
"Let somebody know where you are and when you might be expected to get home." said Coast Guard Auxiliarist Jim Munger.
Portable communications are important if trouble strikes.
Cell phones are better than nothing but marine radios are the preferred choice.
"The cell phone doesn't really go that far out on the lake but the marine radio can be heard across the entire lake system." said Munger.
On any boat, the life jacket is the most important piece of equipment.
There are special ones made specifically for kayaking.
"They have no padding on the front or the shoulders. If you are short in the torso like me, when you sit down you get a life jacket in the chops. This way, you don't." said Francisco.
There are, of course, many more safety tips in the Paddle Sports America course.
Kayak dealer Russ Francisco hopes his customers sign up.
Near Lake Superior for Nature Matters, Dave Anderson, the Northland's News Center.
Other tips from Paddlesports America:
Always wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket.
Always boat with a group. Three boats is a recommended minimum.
Know how to self-rescue. Practice! Practice! Practice!
File a float plan, with friends,,family, or the authorities.
Bring appropriate safety, rescue, and navigational aids, and more than adequate food, water, and extra protective clothing. Do not wear cotton!
Pick an activity level that matches your ability, and progress to more demanding challenges.
Monitor your physical and emotional condition, and watch the other members or your group for fatigue, illness, and changes in behavior.
Know and follow all local, state and federal laws.
Be visible - wear bright colors so others can see you between waves or in the fog. Carry a bright light, flares, and whistle to signal your position.