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Basic Minimum Standards for Kayaking

1. Introduction 1

a. Kayaking is amongst the most popular water sports activities globally. Negotiating rapids, paddling in open water, lakes or the sea in is an exhilarating experience requiring skill and stamina. Kayaks are normally decked and paddled with two-bladed paddles by paddlers sitting inside an enclosed cockpit. Spray decks are used to minimise water into the cockpit, providing better protection for paddlers and reducing the likelihood of hypothermia on cold water rivers. Safe use of spray decks requires training. b. Training in rescue procedures is required for all kayaks and techniques vary according to craft type and environment. c. Since it is a dynamic sport, instructors and guides must be highly qualified and equipment used should be of the highest standard. d. There are several types of kayaks: i. Recreational kayaks: Short (about 3 m for singles) and wide, with large open cockpits. They are suited to flat, sheltered waters only. ii. Touring kayaks: 3.5 to 4.5 m in length, often have bulkheads and hatches. They are suited to open waters such as estuaries and bays, but not the open sea. iii. Sea kayaks: 4.5 to 6 m in length, with bulkheads and hatches, hands-free pump systems and other equipment and are intended for open sea conditions. iv. Whitewater kayaks: There are several types of whitewater kayaks, mainly river runner, creek and freestyle — all with spraydecks. v. Sit on top (SOT) craft: SOT kayaks are a popular choice among recreational paddlers. Recovery after a capsize is easy; right the boat and re-board. On the other hand, paddlers are more exposed to the elements and more care is needed to minimise sunburn and hypothermia. Damaged or loose fittings and hatch

Source : 1 Australian Canoe: Guidlines-2015.pdf

covers or hull damage may allow the entry of water: these craft are not unsinkable. 1. Recreational types single and double, are fairly short and wide. Being susceptible to wind, they are suitable only for flat sheltered water. 2. Touring SOTs are longer and able to cope with estuary and bay conditions. They are favoured by the kayak fishing community. 3. Seagoing SOTs have performance and features similar to sea kayaks but without the enclosed cockpit. 4. Specialist SOTs for whitewater and surf use are available. On open water, tethers can prevent separation of craft and paddler after capsize. There is the danger of entanglement.

vi. Inflatable kayaks: Inflatable kayaks range from little more than toys to kayaks for use on serious whitewater.

3. Guides/Instructors

a. Lead instructors for water sports activities should, as a minimum, hold the following: i. A minimum 16 hour (2 day) first aid certificate provided by a recognized and qualified provider including CPR (Cardio pulmonary Resuscitation) ii. Qualification from a Recognized National or International body for the particular kayaking activity and a certificate from the operator that the individual “has experience of 2 years in assisting in the particular activity and is independently capable of guiding groups and carrying out rescue operations” iii. A logbook containing authenticated records of kayaking experience.

b. Other guides accompanying the trip should be skilled to a high level in conducting the activity, rescue and life saving techniques and First Aid / C.P.R. c. All Instructors and Guides should have the ability to carry out the following and ensure that this is done before/ during the trip:

i. Ability to communicate clearly and deliver a comprehensive safety briefing before starting the activity is mandatory. ii. Gauge participant’s ability to participate in kayaking activity and their ability to do the specific stretch that they are being taken on. iii. Ask participants for relevant medical history. iv. Check environmental conditions (weather, tide, river levels) v. Conduct systematic hazard management checks to ensure that hazards (sources of harm) are identified, assessed, and either eliminated, isolated or minimized on an ongoing basis vi. Headcount of all participants before, during and at the end of the trip. vii. Be vigilant for changes in the physical or psychological state of participants. viii. Set an appropriate pace for the group and take rest as necessary.

4. Equipment

a. Kayaks (should be a good quality stable craft, able to withstand all foreseeable forces, allow for easy exit upon capsize, footrests should not allow feet to become entrapped, should not sink if swamped and appropriate for the activity) b. Paddles (appropriate for type of kayak and the skill level of participants, should be able to withstand all forces associated with activity such as impact with rocks) c. Helmets are mandatory for all kayaking trips taking place on a river (should be made of strong lightweight material like carbon fiber or plastic, provide protection and coverage to forehead, temple and back of the head and have a good system to absorb shock from impacts) d. Life jackets or Personal Floatation Devices ( PFD's) ( must meet the minimum buoyancy requirement, be appropriate for the intended activity, be certified / approved by ISI, US coastguard, British Canoe Union or equivalent) e. Throw-able rescue devices must be available for immediate use.

f. Safety Kayaks must be available in the immediate vicinity (within visual distance) for prompt rescue with personnel duly qualified to operate/ carry out rescue operations. g. During cold weather operations wetsuits and spray jackets are recommended. h. Instructors must all carry rescue bags, knives and whistles. i. Each trip must carry a first aid kit.

5. Operations

a. All kayaking activities must begin with a thorough safety briefing. The briefing must highlight the equipment used, do's and don'ts, demarcation of the boundary for the activity, rescue and emergency procedures. A liability waiver form clearly highlighting the risk involved must be signed by all participants prior to the commencement of the activity. Participants with any medical condition making them unfit for participation in the activity must be informed prior to the commencement of the activity and not allowed to participate.

6. Risk Mitigation

a. Lifejackets: No kayaking activity should be undertaken with wearing a lifejacket throughout the time spent on water. The life jacket must have adequate buoyancy, should be fastened properly and checked by the instructor prior to commencement of the water sports activity. The lifejacket must be the appropriate size for the intended user. b. Guides : No kayaking activity should be conducted without the presence of trained guide/s. c. Only competent swimmers should participate in white water kayaking. d. Helmets: Helmets are mandatory for white water kayaking. Helmets should be a good fit, tight so as to not move but not uncomfortable with an effective fastener to keep the helmet in place. e. Instructor to Client Ratio: Due to the technical nature of the sport, it is advised that the company ensure the instructor to client ratio is always 1:4 in white water kayaking. There should always be at least two qualified instructors on any trip.

f. Number of Kayaks: There should be at least three kayaks for a trip to occur, no single kayak trips are allowed. g. Alcohol/ drugs during the activity and at least six hours prior to the activity is strictly prohibited. h. Client Ability: Clients should not be taken on stretches that instructors deem above their ability level. Their fitness should be assessed and they should be taken on an appropriate stretch. i. Sign boards: For properties/ operators that have access to the water /river. Sign boards should be present besides the water /river with rules clearly mentioning that no water sports activity is to be undertaken unless supervised. j. No kayaking activity should be conducted in the dark and preferably finish at least one hour before dark. k. Age Limit: i. Children below the age of 12 are not allowed to kayak on rapids in a river. ii. Children 12+ can only kayak on Grade II rapids iii. Children 14+ can kayak on Grade III rapids and above. iv. For recreational kayaking and canoeing in lakes, the age limit is 10 years. It must be ensured that risk is mitigated by not venturing far from the shore (maximum 50 meters) and by going out in good weather conditions only.

7. SOP’s and operating instructions

a. All Kayaking Operators must maintain and update a Standard Operating Procedure for their operations. b. Besides covering the methodologies that are adopted by the agency in organizing the activity, such as assessing of member's medical condition and experience, procedures for conduct of the activity, avoidance of injury, safety precautions, communication, weather, procedure for emergencies, casualty evacuation, incident and accident reporting, feedback mechanism the following must be included in the SOPs: i. An Emergency Action Plan including rescues, evacuations and medical assistance must be in position. Staff / guides / drivers

must be trained in all aspects of the Emergency Action Plan periodically. ii. Advertising must give a true picture of the difficulties and risk involved and clients briefed accordingly. Information about guides and their experience should be sent to the clients for multi day kayaking expeditions.

8. Documentation

The tour operator must maintain, at the minimum the following documentation: a. Details of all Guides and Instructors including, copies of certifications, record of experience and feedback from clients. b. Copies of all Permits and Permissions required for operations. c. Copies of identification documents, Insurance cover and details of next of kin for all participants, guides and instructors. d. Copy of SOP. e. Current list of emergency contact numbers

9. Emergencies and rescues

a. Adequate first aid medical equipment must be available with the kayaking trip. b. Evacuation routes must identified and known to participants, guides and instructors. c. A detailed and documented evacuation/emergency procedure must be available with the party along with closest available emergency services which can be called upon as required.

10. Safety Briefing

a. All instructors and guides should be able to give a thorough safety briefing that covers all safety aspects and detailed instructions about a safe kayaking tour. This briefing must be clear and given in English, Hindi or the local language that passenger can understand.

11. Medical Concerns

a. All instructors and guides must be able to ensure that a question regarding medical issues is asked before the activity is conducted. It is

recommended that heart patients, those with spinal issues, recent surgery or any other medical issue of concern, expecting mothers and under age children do not participate in the activity. It is also recommended to check for epilepsy and asthmatic patients, on extent of ailment. Asthma inhalers must be carried by clients and preferably handed over to the guide.

12. Basic Minimum Standards for grant of recognition to operators

It is highly recommended that any outfit, entity, establishment or company seeking grant for recognition must fulfill these desirable criteria: a. The entity must own specialized equipment commensurate with needs of undertaking and running such an operation. b. The entity must have qualified personnel (minimum two full time qualified staff) on their pay roll. These personnel must carry the requisite experience in the activity and have valid First Aid & CPR certification. c. The entity must operate with the required permits / licenses. d. The entity must have at least one certified and experienced person on their Board e. It is recommended that the entity is registered with the state tourism department / recognized by the Ministry of Tourism, Govt of India. f. The entity must have a registered office. g. The kayaking company must follow a strict ' leave no trace' policy and conform to high sustainability standards.