Kayaking Tips for the Active Firefighter – Summer Edition

By John Gargagliano

Last December, I spoke with you about the basics on getting started in the relaxing yet challenging sport of kayaking. Here in August, I am now going to focus on kayaking safety.

When kayaking, it is critical not only to keep your wits about you, but understand your location, surroundings, and bearings. In the event of an emergency, one must keep a clear head and stay calm to come out safe and unharmed. Here I explain three ways to get out of quite a sticky situation: a rollover. With these three methods, and a little practice, any kayaker can make a comeback from a rollover and continue on their merry way.


Here, I discuss what is called the “Cowboy Method.”


Here, I demonstrate what is called “Laddering” the kayak. 


The third and final self-rescue method uses a flotation device, called an “oar pillow,” that fits on the end of the oar that helps prevent you from falling into the water.


One final note of caution: Make sure that you are completely aware of where the body of water you are kayaking in is flowing. You never want to end up in a treacherous situations where you suddenly find yourself paddling for your life.  

I will return in the fall to complete our series on kayaking with some more helpful tips. Until then, enjoy the water, have fun, and be safe!


Derek Rosenfeld is an associate editor for Fire Engineering. He has been the assistant baseball coach at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey, since 2005. He has also been an infielder in several highly competetive semipro baseball leagues throughout the tri-state area. During the mid-90s, Rosenfeld was a three-year starter at second base for the Ramapo College baseball team in Mahwah, New Jersey, where he earned all-New Jersey Athletic Conference honors and was a two-time New Jersey Collegiate Baseball Association (NJCBA) all-star selection. He was named MVP of the 1997 NJCBA All-Star Game. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Ramapo College.  



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