Falling off your inflatable kayak can happen, but it’s essential to stay calm and know how to rescue yourself safely. Here are steps to rescue yourself when you fall off an inflatable kayak:

Stay Calm:

  • The first and most important step is to remain calm. Panicking can make the situation more challenging.

Stay with the Kayak:

  • Hold on to the kayak if possible. The kayak can act as flotation and provide stability in the water.

Life Jacket:

  • Ensure you’re wearing a properly fitted life jacket. It should keep you afloat, even if you’re not holding on to the kayak.

Retrieve Paddle:

  • If you’ve lost your paddle, try to retrieve it as it’s an essential tool for maneuvering in the water. Most paddles float, so look around for it.

Reposition the Kayak:

  • If your kayak is upside down, flip it back over. Most inflatable kayaks are stable and easy to flip.

Climb On or Re-enter:

  • There are a few methods to re-enter the kayak depending on the kayak’s design and your abilities:
    • Climb On: If the kayak is stable and shallow enough, you can try to climb back onto it from the water. Push down on one side to partially submerge the opposite side to make it easier to climb back on.
    • Swim to the Stern: If your kayak has an open stern, you can swim to the back of the kayak, grab the rear, and use it to pull yourself back on.
    • T-Rescue: In the T-rescue method, you swim to the stern of the kayak, tilt it to one side to create a “T” shape, and then climb onto the stern. Once balanced on the stern, pivot and slide back into the cockpit.

Bail Water:

  • If there’s water inside the kayak, use a bilge pump, a sponge, or simply tip the kayak to remove excess water.

Paddle and Resume Paddling:

  • Once you’re safely back in the kayak, grab your paddle and continue paddling.

Self-Rescue Training:

  • Consider taking a kayaking or paddling safety course that includes self-rescue training. These courses teach essential skills and techniques for re-entering the kayak after a capsize.


Before going kayaking, it’s a good idea to let someone know your plans, wear appropriate clothing for the water and weather conditions, and carry a means of communication in case of emergencies.

It’s important to practice these techniques in a controlled environment to build your confidence and skills. Being prepared for a self-rescue can make a big difference in staying safe and enjoying your time on the water.

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