Kayaking safety on the river

Summer weather is certainly here, and that means summer activities are in full swing. But with all of that comes the concern for safety, especially on the water.
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 5:13 PM EDT
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WATERVILLE, Ohio (WTVG) - Whether you’re an expert kayaker, or you’ve never been on the water, it’s always a good time of year to remember what it takes to be safe and be ready for anything when you’re out on the lake or the river.

Amanda Domalski is an Outdoor Skills Interpreter with Metroparks Toledo. She tells 13abc, “we have really great access to water here in northwest Ohio. But some of that is big water.”

Domalski’s job is to get visitors engaged with the outdoors. And safety is a huge part of that, no matter what the activity is. Today, it’s kayaking.

“It can be easy for paddlers to kind of get in over their heads when they shouldn’t be paddling,” Domalski says.

And safety starts with knowing the weather conditions.

“Wind conditions or water level, water temperature, waves,” says Domalski. “All of those things can make it dangerous for a beginner or even an intermediate paddler to be on that water body.”

They’re all factors that you should check before heading out. But it doesn’t take much for the river to turn dangerous.

“Ten miles-per-hour doesn’t feel like that much, but in a boat, a 10mph wind can be quite a bit.”

It’s more than just our weather here.

“If there’s a big rainstorm in Fort Wayne or Defiance, that can be enough to get the river flood to the point that you shouldn’t be paddling,” Domalski says.

Metroparks Toledo offers a kayak launch at Farnsworth Metropark. But if you don’t have your own kayak, Metroparks offers rentals and guided tours.

Bob Heckman is the Park Services Supervisor for a number of Metroparks. He says Metroparks offers “trips around the island, hourly rates or daily rates. We also offer downriver trips from Farnsworth, it’s a five-mile trip down to Sidecut, and you pull out by the 475 bridge.”

Domalski adds, “we’re different from a rental because anytime you paddle with us, you go out with a naturalist guide, who is also trained in kayaking safety.”

The Farnsworth concession offers updated river conditions while it’s open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday now through Labor Day. You can visit the Farnsworth Concession section of the Metroparks Toledo website to check river conditions. You can also find flood information through the National Weather Service river observations page or the USGS water data site.

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