PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Pascagoula Outdoor Recreation Specialist Kristi Ducote is thrilled that more South Mississippians are starting to share her love of kayaking.
However, she worries some people may be hitting the water without being prepared for the potential risks.
"Sometimes people just buy a boat and they get started. They don't know what they don't know about the sport," said Ducote. "Know your personal abilities and limitations. What are you capable of doing? What distances? Are you prepared to deal with the elements of the weather and the seas that pick up? "
As part of a kayaking rescue clinic, Ducote teaches about proper clothing and equipment with special focus on the importance of always wearing a life jacket. She also has attendees go through drills on what to do if they're knocked from their boats.
"How do you come out of your kayak when you go over in the water? Because that is one of the common things I get from people. They say they may be claustrophobic," said Ducote. "They're scared if they go over they will not be able to come out of the boat. So there's that fear of drowning. So the first thing we teach is how to exit a sit inside kayak when you go over. "
Participants also learn ways pull themselves from the water back into their kayaks, either with the help of a friend or, all alone.
Ducote said, "Most of the time we go out and we don't have any troubles. Hopefully you'll never need to utilize these skills but when you find yourself in those circumstances you want to make sure you know what to do."
While it's safer to kayak with a friend, Ducote says if you do kayak alone, be sure to tell someone where you're going and when you plan to get back.
The next scheduled kayaking safety clinic is October 10, and space is limited. Attendees may call 228-938-2356 to make arrangements for special classes. The cost is $30.