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Kayaking safety tips as summer gets started

Posted at 7:03 PM, Jun 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-20 19:03:14-04

With summer officially arriving Wednesday, and kayaking continuing to grow in popularity, 7 Eyewitness News spoke to a local kayak rental shop owner to provide tips and tricks to make sure everybody is safe on the water this year.

Jason Mendola co-owns Elevator Alley Kayak and says the biggest piece of advice he can offer kayakers of all experience levels is to wear a life vest, not just keep one in the boat. It's easy to capsize in kayaks, so having the life vest on before an emergency occurs is important, according to Mendola.

"A lot of the mistakes I see with new kayakers is they take for granted the life vest," he said. "It is super critical. It very well could save your life."

He advises kayakers to stick to the edge of the Buffalo River or other waterways in Western New York. That leaves room for larger boats and vessels to maneuver down the middle.

It's also important to check weather forecasts before ever getting into the water. Mendola says wind is the most dangerous thing for kayakers and doesn't recommend anyone go out in winds stronger than 15 miles per hour.

Mendola also recommends taking water along for the ride to stay hydrated, dressing in clothes that are appropriate to get wet, carrying a light and reflective gear to be more visible toward dusk.