NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As we head towards the summer months, people are starting to hit the water and enjoy our area’s lakes and rivers.

Kayaking has become very popular over the last decade or so. It’s a great way to enjoy the water, but in light of a recent kayak accident on Percy Priest Lake, safety is a priority.

(Photo: WKRN)

So for the second year in a row, Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are joining the Tennessee chapter of the American Canoe Association to offer low-cost kayaking instruction on Saturday, May 20, as part of National Safe Boating Week, which begins the same day.

Although this event has already sold out, there are more training opportunities for training in paddlesports this summer. Click here to find training in your area.

(Photo: WKRN)

Geoff Luckett, a paddle instructor for the American Canoe Association emphasized the first rule in safety.

“The number one thing always is to wear your PFD,” Luckett said. “If you notice, if you see any professional paddlers or paddle instructors, they will always have their PFD (Personal Safety Device, or life jacket) on.”

“These days paddle craft are so stable, that if you fall out of the paddle craft, usually there’s some reason,” Luckett explained. “And even if you are a strong swimmer, if you are incapacitated, you can’t stay at the surface of the water. So, it’s really important to stay at the surface of the water, so people around, if there is an emergency, can get to you and get you out of the water.”

And kayaks are not as easy for other boaters to see. So, make yourself as visible as possible.

“If you have a bright-colored boat, you are easier to see,” Luckett pointed out. “I wear a bright orange vest, a bright orange long-sleeved shirt, and a flag.”

There’s plenty more to learn in kayak class, like different paddle strokes and how to extend your time on the water without getting tired, getting back on your kayak if you fall off, and then there’s the weather.

“Know the weather before you go,” Luckett said. “Know how the weather is going to change. Here, if you are in Middle Tennessee, Percy Priest Lake is famous for having the wind coming up in the afternoons. So, it might not be windy when you launch, but check those wind projections.”

Many kayakers find themselves stranded when they are not able to paddle back to their home base because of the wind. If a cold front is expected that will shift the wind direction, keep that in mind as you plan your trip.

Luckett suggests that even on a day when the wind is not expected to change directions, it’s a good idea to paddle upwind first, so the trip home will be downwind.