Strainer Danger – Kayakers Beware!

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They can pop up anywhere at anytime! My friend came upon one once. She was in part of a river scouted every morning by a livery crew.

She was the first one headed out for the day. A huge Sycamore tree had fallen after the river was scouted. The water was only about three feet deep but WHOLLY MOLLY…the force was unbelievable!

Two boats got shoved under that day. Other paddlers held on to branches to make their way out of the trap.

What is a STRAINER?

A Strainer is an object that falls into the water, usually a tree, that causes a partial obstruction but allows water to flow through it…like a cooking strainer or sift.

The tree branches can allow water to pass but catch larger objects.

The force can be so strong that is bends kayaks in half and can trap and drown a paddler.

Strainers are a common cause of both “close calls” and fatalities on moving water. The force exerted on a kayak can fold it around an obstruction like a wet rag – even in a moderate current.

If you get hung up in a strainer, you can get sucked under and pinned. The paddler who owns the blue kayak above was flushed through and survived…but the kayak didn’t.

The Case for Center Foam Pillars

River and whitewater kayaks have built in foam pillars to prevent kayaks from folding in the center. The foot pads were added to keep you from getting your legs shoved into the nose of the kayak and having your legs pinned.

Whitewater kayaks are a lot safer today than they were 20-30 years ago but you still need to know about river hazards and how to avoid them.

Life Jackets and Don’t Paddle Solo

You’ve heard it a thousand times…wear your life jacket.

Unfortunately, paddlers get overconfident after years of practice. If you stop wearing your life jacket and happen upon one of these strainers, you’re chances of survival drop way down.

Always wear a life jacket on any river, lake, or ocean. Oceans and rivers have can have unpredictable currents.

When in trouble in the water, kayakers can get excited, then winded and end up in a panic. If the water is cold, the situation is far worse.

At 50 degrees Farenheit, most kayakers will drown within a couple of iminutes due to cold shock and swimming failure – regardless of if they are strong swimmers.

Wearing a properly fitted and secured PFD (personal floatation device) is the most important safety percaution that any paddler can take.

National Center for Cold Water Safety