UK Coastguard Helicopter "Stac Pollaidh" on the ground at the 2005 Scottish Sea Kayak Symposium, Skye.

This section draws together a range of information about Safety & Rescue concepts, as well as being a platform for Incident Reports - for information on physical items of safety equipment such as flares, paddle floats and tow lines, see the Equipment page.

Ideas, suggestions or broken links? Please email me with details.

General Safety

CG66 - the Maritime and Coastguard Agency operates a Voluntary Safety ID Scheme - "a database that is accessible to all Coastguard Co-ordination Centres throughout the UK so that they have the information they need to mount a search and rescue operation should you get into difficulty"

CLAPS and other resources for group management (including a useful aide-memoir for put-in briefings) are available on Paddling Headquarters "Instructor Resources" page. Kim Bull's MyABCDE is also useful.

Clothing - see the Equipment page for thoughts on how clothing can contribute to overall safety.

ColRegs/ International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea - from Sailtrain.

Cold water survival - discussion

Cold water shock - a real killer - Sea Kayaker Magazine's article is worth reading.

Coastguard Contact details and Operating Areas for Search & Rescue. The UKSKGB "Easy Reference Sheets" also have this information - Scotland - Western England & Wales - Eastern England - Summary sheets with paddling speed calculators, wind speed chart, CG contact & MSI Broadcast Times, Marine VHF channels - (.PDF) - if you would like the Word originals to personalise for yourself, please contact me.

Coastguard - notifying - discussion

Emergency Situations - short video by Gordon Brown, made in conjunction with the CG and RNLI. Interesting comments on the use of flares, PLB's and the like.

First Aid - this discussion (from the Inland section) includes ideas on First Aid pack contents. See also this excellent article (PDF) by Dr Andy Watts on Expedition First Aid. See also this discussion for more thoughts on contents.

Flares - see the Equipment page.

Group management / pre-paddle briefing - see CLAPS, above.

Float Plan - pro-forma from Cailean MacLeod. (.PDF)

Hypothermia - detailed discussion with links to a number of other valuable resources. See also the links to Cold Water Shock.

Incident reports - see "Rescues and Incident Reports" below.

Leadership - in depth discussion looking at leadership strategies and group dynamics and touching on coaching and guided trips. See also this discussion. This discussion is about appropriate group size.

Lightning / storms - discusion here and here. See also this article from the (US) National Weather Service. See this discussioni

Maritime & Coastguard Agency are "responsible throughout the UK for implementing the Government’s maritime safety policy. That includes co-ordinating search and rescue at sea through Her Majesty’s Coastguard"

Mayday / Pan pan / phonetic alphabet. Summary of protocols and procedures for emergency calls, and the phonetic alphabet.

Military Exercise Areas - see the "Local Info" sections of the regional pages from Sea Kayaking Trips.

Navigation - see the Navigation page

Night Paddling - Factsheet from Cailean MacLeod. (.PDF). See also this discussion on ways of seeing and being seen at night.

Planning your first multi-day trip? Mark Rainsley's article "a Special Kind of Freedom" is essential reading.

Radar & Kayaks - discussion

Risk taking - article from - a website which provides an "introduction to the psychology of risk taking for general readers, and specialised support for psychologists".

RNLI website.

Rolling - see the Technique Page for links to several articles and discussions.

Safe practise - an American introduction to safe practice.

Safety - useful Fact Sheet from Cailean MacLeod. (.PDF). WaveLength magazine has some good safety articles. The RNLI produces some useful safety information for kayakers.

Safety Kit - discussion

Solo Paddling - discussion

Strobes - see the Equipment page.

Towing / Tow lines - see the Equipment page

VHF - Marine VHF - a helpful safety item! The VHF / EPIRB / PLB page has links to discussions on choosing and using.

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Rescues and Incident reports.

The MCA carries details of rescues, some of which will involve paddlers, on their Press Releases page. The RNLI does likewise. Many of the RNLI stations run their own websites, one such being Weymouth, on which details of launches can often be found. Searching the Sea Forum using the word "rescue" or "call out" will bring up details of relevant posts there.

Rescue of a diver in distress - report of a real rescue, by Julian Patrick. Some useful learning points for kayakers. 2004.

This article details a "near miss" in the Firth of Forth. 2004.

SeaKayaker Magazine has this incident report of a fatality involving a novice. 2004.

Rescue of a kayaker in the vicinity of the Summer Isles - compilation of posts from the Community Forum. 2005.

Rescue by Swanage Lifeboat - sadly involving a fatality (not a kayaker) - summary of posts from the Community Forum with some learning points for kayakers. 2006.

Long discussion about an incident involving kayakers off Lands End. 2006.

This discussion deals with a tragic drowning in the Sound of Luing in 2007.

Very detailed report of a shoulder dislocation and subsequent rescue in the Firth of Forth. 2008.

Excellent write-up of a Mayday in the Orkneys. 2009.

Some worthwhile observations in this discussion (from KateD) on her experiences on a trip in the Clyde by the Cumraes. A deceptive bit of water! 2009.

This discussion details a very lucky rescue in the Orkneys. 2010.

This report of an incident off Den Helder in the Netherlands makes interesting reading. 2010.

Very sad fatality off the coast of Anglesey in North Wales in 2010.

Fatality in Shetland in 2010.

From Tower Hamlets Canoe Club, this trip report has some very subtle learning points from a trip in early 2010.

A "canoeist" was found in the water off Eigg in 2011 by a local tour boat - no details other than the report of his death.

Discussion covering the rescue of a very large group off Portland Bill in 2011.

Discussion with a very candid and insightful report of a rescue near Flat Holme in 2011. Numerous learning points worthy of note. This discussion also covers the same incident.

This indepth article on Red Alder Ranch's blog details an incident in surf off the coast of Oregon in October 2011 and also links to a report of another incident with a group of beginers. Worth reading and contains a lot of learning points.

Fishguard, February 2012 - an incident report.

St Davids Rescue - detailed discussion of a rescue on a 5* training course. April 2012.

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Rescue techniques.

"T", "X" "sling" etc - excellent illustrated article from the US on the Atlantic Kayak Tours site.

See the "Over the Side Rescue" outlined in Sea Kayaker Magazine.

Some excellent video clips are to be found on this Norwegian site - even if you don't understand Norwegian - "EGENREDNING" would appear to be "Self Rescue" as opposed to KAMERATREDNING which "Erling" tells me is "buddy rescue", or "assisted rescue".

Discussion here on rescue techniques and this one covers stirrup rescues and alternatives.

See this discussion on self rescue. takes a novel approach with some clear animated diagrams on technique and rescue methods.

This discussion is about the different techniques for rescuing a double.

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(Updated 06-Feb-2016 )