Steve from Ulladulla Dive and Adventure Centre posted the following information relating to safety requirements for commercial operators. Although the list is targeted at groups, rather than individuals, it may provide you with some pointers on what items may be appropriate in a comprehensive safety kit.
As a commercial operator we were required to submit an application to NSW Maritime which included; 1. Safety Guidelines for operations 2. Emergency Management Plan
Even though we are commercial and have to have these guidelines it is not silly for ANY person going on the water to have contingency plans.
One should have a plan for when things go wrong such as change of weather, illness, physical injury, equipment failure (sinking!, etc), loss of gear (such as paddle) etc, etc.
Our safety guidelines & EMP are too large to attach here but if anyone is driving past our shop we are more than happy to give them a look at our set-up.
In addition to PFD's, our safety guidelines have a list of safety equipment that we have decided works best for us and our customers (upon whom we have a duty of care). I reproduce it below;
The Tour Leader shall carry a marine and a topographical map(s) which wholly encompass the planned trip and surrounding land areas. The maps (s) shall be waterproof.
The tour leader will carry a marine compass.
A waterproof hand held GPS receiver shall be carried along with spare batteries.
Communication Equipment Edit
The Tour Leader will carry the following communication equipment on every kayak tour;
- Marine whistle
- Mobile phone
- Signalling mirror
- Marine VHF Radio
- Chemical light stick
- V sheet
- Air horn
Safety and Rescue Equipment Edit
(a) Basic safety equipment will be carried where it is easily and quickly accessible. The equipment shall consist of a minimum of the following items;
- Communications systems as in 4.5 above
- Marine First Aid Kit as approved
- Waterproof matches
- Chemical fire starters (e.g. “Firelighters”, not fluid accelerant)
- Space blanket
- Spare dry clothing as in 6.1
- Sun Protection screen as in 6.2
- Spare food & drink as in 6.3
(b) All leaders are to have an appropriate towing system easily accessible so that it can be deployed quickly when needed. Other participants should also carry towlines at the discretion of the Tour Leader. All towing systems must be quick release and should be set up so that they do not restrict maneuverability of the towing boat.
(c) The Tour Leader will carry a rescue knife. The knife will not be affixed to the PFD.
As you can see the list is pretty comprehensive. I expect a private trip would cull a lot of stuff.
One of the basic tenants when putting this list together was what we would require if stranded and had to wait for rescue, even overnight.
In all cases, on our route maps, we show emergency services access in case we had to be pulled out over land or by helicopter.
All tour leaders carry an EMP work slate with the local emergency services contact information, both phone & VHF frequencies. We always notify Coastal Patrol where we're going & when we should return. Our office phone is always attended when we are on a trip.
Apart from our waterproof VHF marine radio, everything in the lists can be carried in a wet bag which is permanently ready to go. The mobile phone is on charge when not in use & is put in the wet bag before leaving.
All of the above is more geared towards a commercial operation. However, always tell someone where you are going & when you should return so that the cavalry can be called out if you are more than, say, one hour late. If confident, allow half an hour on top of your calculated return & the cavalry can come looking if you are one minute late.
Others safety, in our operation, is our most important goal. When you have no one else to worry about, however, your safety should be the most important goal. Don't end up costing the emergency services a lot of time & money because you have not done your homework. I guess your families would want you to be careful as well (some of us, anyway!).