Experts: As kayak popularity grows, education and life jackets overlooked

Kentucky saw a busy and tragic holiday on waterways in central and eastern Kentucky.
Published: Jul. 6, 2020 at 10:39 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) -- Kentucky saw a busy and tragic holiday on waterways in central eastern Kentucky.

Officials in Bath County rescued one woman after falling out of her kayak on the Licking River. She held onto a tree until officials arrived. It would be only one of their three calls for help.

At Cave Run Lake, the scenario was tragic after a 22-year-old died after flipping his kayak in the Stoney Cover area. Witnesses say he was not wearing a life jacket when he went under.

In Franklin County, Chris Howard with Canoe Kentucky says he hates to see anything bad happen in a field he is passionate about. He now hopes it starts more conversations geared towards safety on bodies of water.

"Talk about those accidents, talk about those incidents, and say 'you don't wear the life jacket for you, you wear the life jacket for your family and friends.' Wear it for those you want to come home to," said Howard. "There is no use of being out on the water and not having a life jacket on. It's just pure safety."

Kayaking has grown in popularity over recent years. Kayaks are appealing to many for their lightweight and low price. Howard says while he wants to see more people enjoy the outdoors, many may not understand what they are buying when they put a kayak on the water for the first time.

“I think when you can go grab a kayak and put it in your shopping cart or put it in your bed of your truck and nobody talks to you about it, I think that absolutely contributes to this,” said Howard. “But somewhere inside all those kayaks, somewhere it says ‘Wear your life jacket’.

Canoe Kentucky has created a loaner life jacket system for anyone that does not own the flotation device while using their facilities.

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