Kayaking is a really fun and easy access activity. With that being said, its ease of access should not be taken for granted. You still need to plan for the safety of the activity so your day of fun and adventure remains just that. Having the proper safety items, some of which are required, and knowing how to use them allows you the confidence to move forward with the enjoyment of kayaking.
Obviously, the list for a simple day paddle and the list for an extended paddling trip will not be the same, however, many of the basic items will be the same for both. A little advanced planning goes a long way. I'm going to present this in the form of a pre-trip safety check, after a few trips this will become second nature and only takes a short time. Happy paddling!
Preparation before you begin kayaking
Know how to get back into your boat if you capsize or fall off your sit-on-top, practice self rescue.
Take lessons from a reputable source if you are not sure how to paddle and maneuver your kayak.
Take a first-aid course
Kayak Pre-trip Checklist
Check your weather app or online resources and tide charts if applicable.
Be sure to tell someone where you're going and when you expect to return.
Check your first-aid kit to be sure its properly stocked.
Check your PFD and be sure to wear it while on the water.
Dress for weather conditions, be prepared for water temperatures. Layer if need be.
Check all equipment prior to each trip.
Don't paddle beyond your experience level or ability. Be honest for your own benefit.
Follow manufacturer's recommendations for your equipment.
Be sure all compartments are closed and drain plugs in place.
Check seat to make sure its secured in place.
Make sure all propulsion devices are in proper working order if used.
Safety items to keep on your kayak for every trip
Personal floatation device required for everyone and must be worn at all times on the water by children under a certain age (check local regulations)
Dry bag or bags to organize items for ease of use.
First-aid kit (keep dry)
Anchor or Grab tool to remain in place when needed or wanted
Knife and good multi tool
Throw bag for rescue
Spare paddle (optional)
Water, snacks, sunscreen, hat, etc. warm clothes if weather changes
Safety light for being on the water after dark (required), Navigation lights
VHF radio (option but good idea)
Compass or GPS
Signaling device, airhorn or whistle
***This is not a comprehensive list of everything that you may want or need to carry but a good start. Some are required and some optional, build your supplies to suit your needs and check your local laws.***