Kayaker's rescue from Rock River highlights importance of summer water safety

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) ----- A kayaker's rescue on the Rock River Wednesday highlights the importance of water safety.

"You're the engine and there's no brakes."

Summer fun in the Stateline often revolves around days on the water. With kayaking a popular activity for young and old, knowing your way on the waves is crucial.

"Being able to control the elements to give as easy of an atmosphere for you to practice your skills so you can be safe and confident in your ability to navigate your kayak on the water. Safety 101, the first step is never be further from shore than you're willing to swim," said Rocktown Adventures general manager Kevin Versino.

"What do I do if I do capsize? What do I do, do I know how to get back in the boat? We would run trips and we would routinely take people out on the lake here and over in Olson and have them deliberately capsize and then help them learn how to get back in a boat," said Jim Talkington, owner of Rock Cut State Park Concession.

"You always want to make sure you're either with someone or familiar with the area that you're paddling," said Versino.

Above all, you have to pay attention.

"Especially on a river, it's very easy, you're having a great conversation with the person you're paddling with and you don't pay attention for 30 seconds. Maybe you're not moving your paddle through the water, but guess what, you're moving," said Versino.

"There are literally hundreds of thousands of kayakers in the United States and for the few times we hear of incidences, it's a very safe hobby,” said Talkington.

Experts say wearing a life jacket with a whistle can help you in an accident, as sound travels further when on the water.