A Sergeant assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, died in an off-duty sports, recreation and physical training mishap 16 January 2022 in Lake Desoto, Hot Springs, Arkansas, at 1914 local. The Soldier and his fiancée fell into the river when their kayak capsized. A nearby boater heard screams for help and immediately responded. The boater rescued the fiancée but was unable to locate the Soldier. First responders from the Department of Natural Resources initiated search-and-rescue efforts with negative results. Those efforts transitioned to search and recovery due to the length of time the Soldier had been missing. His body was recovered two days later.
Since FY17, the Army has lost an average of 12 Soldiers a year to off-duty sports, recreation and physical training mishaps. This tragedy was the first fatal off-duty sports, recreation and physical training mishap of FY22.
• WEAR YOUR PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE. Coast Guard regulations require that all kayaks have a lifejacket on board. Wearing your lifejacket will help keep your head above water and add insulation to your body, keeping you warmer in cold water. There are great PFDs designed specifically for paddlers. Buy one that fits well, and always wear it while you paddle.
• Be aware of weather conditions and water temperature. Prepare for changes in weather and the possibility of capsizing. If paddling in cold water, a wet suit or dry suit can keep you warm and comfortable. In warm weather, a long sleeve shirt can provide sun protection.
• Beware of off-shore winds that make it difficult to return to shore.
• Always follow the boating rules of the area you're kayaking.
• Never mix alcohol or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) with kayaking.
• Never exceed the weight capacity of your kayak and always check your equipment for wear and tear before you paddle.
• Seek qualified instruction to learn proper paddling techniques, water safety and basic first aid.
• Brush up on self-rescue first in calm, warm, shallow water, and again in more extreme conditions.
• Tell someone your paddle plan, which includes where you are going, what you will be doing, how long you expect to be gone and how many people are in your party. Then stick to your plan.
• Paddling in the surf zone or in rivers can be dangerous. Always wear a helmet.
• Stay hydrated. Always bring plenty of water and food.
• When paddling in a new area, check with the locals regarding currents, shoreline conditions and weather patterns. Plan an "escape" route — an alternative place to get off the water should environmental conditions dictate it.
For more info, visit https://www.oceankayak.com/blog/article/basic-safety-tips-kayaking.