Terms of Use

This information is currently not accessible to residents living outside of Ontario. For more information on your own province’s Safety Guidelines, please consult with your provincial Ministry of Education.

Ce contenu n’est pas disponible à l’extérieur de l’Ontario. Veuillez communiquer avec le ministère de l’Éducation de votre province pour des renseignements sur les Lignes directrices sur la sécurité de votre province.

I Agree

Outdoor Education - Flat Water Kayaking


Secondary - Curricular 2017

Update coming soon to reflect amendments to Ontario Public Pools Regulation 565 that come into effect on July 1, 2018.

Pools, Lake Water Kayaking, Base Camp Kayaking

Flat Water Kayaking is kayaking on lake water or river where no rapids exist and eddies are very slight.

This is not an appropriate activity for non-swimmers.

White Water Canoeing and White Water Kayaking are not appropriate in-class activities at the secondary level.

Consult Outdoor Education - General Procedures.

When using an outside provider, prior to the activity taking place this activity page must be presented to the outside provider who must meet the minimum requirements listed on this page. For more information on planning trips using outside providers, consult Appendix N - Outside Activity Providers.


Teacher – A person with a current certification from the Ontario College of Teachers, under contract by the school/board. This person is legally responsible for the students.

Trip Guide – An individual who has the required certifications and/or knowledge/skills of the route and activity. This role could be fulfilled by a teacher, a parent/guardian/volunteer or an employee of an outside provider, and must be approved by the school/board.

Lifeguard - An individual who is at least 18 years of age; who has the required certification; and who is responsible for the overseeing of swimmer safety.

Instructor – An individual who provides instruction on skills and possesses the required certifications. This role could be fulfilled by a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or an employee of an outside provider.

Parent/guardian/volunteer – An adult who has been approved by the principal and has been instructed on responsibilities (e.g., monitoring [supervision]).

Supervisor – A supervisor is a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or trip guide. This term is used only in relation to supervision ratios.

Outside Provider - An outside facility contracted by the school/board to provide activity services.


Determine that all necessary equipment is included and is safe for use prior to departing on the excursion.

A fully stocked first aid kit appropriate for the number of participants must be readily accessible and waterproofed (consult Appendix D - Sample First Aid Kit).

A working communication device (e.g., satellite or cell phone, or satellite GPS messenger) suitable for the activities/locations must be available. This device must be maintained, waterproofed, protected and dedicated for emergency communications only.

Kayak with adequate flotation in nose and stern to prevent kayak from sinking when full of water.

Paddle (1 per paddler) and kayak must be checked for cracks, splinters and leaks.

One buoyant heaving line of not less than 15m (49') (e.g., throw rope rescue bag) per kayak.

One bailer (bailer must be at least 750mL [9oz] with an opening of 65cm2 [10in2] and constructed of plastic and/or metal) per kayak.

One waterproof flashlight per kayak.

Correctly fitting and Transport Canada approved P.F.D/life-jackets, with whistle attached, must be worn and properly fastened at all times while on the water.


Determine that all necessary clothing and footwear are included prior to departing on the excursion.

Clothing (in layers where appropriate) and footwear appropriate to the activity, location and environmental conditions must be worn.

Dry change of clothing kept in a watertight bag/container must be accessible.


Check with local authorities for current information regarding route safety.

Flat water kayaking is kayaking on lake water or river where no rapids exist and eddies are very slight.

Water conditions must be appropriate for the type of kayak being used and the skill level of the group.

Special Rules/Instructions

Be aware of students whose medical condition (e.g., anaphylaxis, asthma, casts, previous concussion, orthopaedic device) may affect participation (consult the Generic Section).

Risks involved with the activities must be communicated to parent(s)/guardian(s) with a signed response form from the parent(s)/guardian(s), giving permission for student to participate.

Where the activity takes students off school property, parents/guardians must be made aware of means of transportation used.

Prior to participation students must receive training or information on concussion prevention and awareness specific to the activity, information on the possible risks of the activity and procedures and rules for safe play. Students must not participate in the activity until these instructions have been received.

Activities must be based on skills taught.

The teacher and instructor must take into consideration previous training and fitness level of all trip participants and the length of time and intensity of physical activity.

Students must receive instruction on safety procedures related to hydration and nourishment.

Swim Test

Prior to flat water kayaking, students must successfully complete the following swim test in its entirety, in sequence and without any aids or stops:

  • Rolling entry (backwards or forward) into deep water at 2.75m (9’) minimum depth
  • Tread water for 1 minute
  • Swim 50m (164’) continuously any stroke

The test must be administered by a certified instructor/lifeguard (test is based on the Lifesaving Society’s Swim to SurviveTM Standard).

The swim test must be completed within the school year in which the activity is taking place.

In lieu of completing the swim test, students may provide proof of Bronze Medallion certification or higher.

Instructor and outside provider must be made aware of the swim test results.

Students who do not pass the above swim test or who do not have the aforementioned certification must not participate in flat water kayaking.

Kayaking Skills

Skills must be taught in the proper progression.

Prior to flat water kayaking, a prerequisite test must occur in a pool, shallow water, or sheltered bay for which students must demonstrate to the instructor competence in kayaking skills, as follow:

  • Launching a kayak
  • Proper entry/exit from kayak
  • Emptying the kayak (beach and dock)
  • T-rescue
  • Wet exit
  • Manoeuvres using the following basic strokes:
  • Forward
  • Backstroke
  • Front sweep
  • Backsweep
  • Drawstroke
  • Bracing
  • Stopping

Environmental Considerations

Instructor must take into consideration environmental conditions (e.g., air and water temperature, currents, undertows tides and wave conditions, weather, wind, air quality, humidity, UV index, insects)

Teacher and instructor must:

  • be aware of and respond to changing weather and water conditions, prior to and during the trip; and
  • cancel, postpone or alter the excursion if conditions put students’ safety at an elevated level of risk (e.g. wind, temperature, lightning storms, fog).

Visibility of 500m (1640’) is required.

If storm weather suddenly approaches, leave the water immediately.

Daylight kayaking only except under emergency situations.

Navigation lights (e.g., waterproof flashlight) are required if operating at night or in restricted visibility.

Students must be made aware of ways to protect themselves from environmental conditions (e.g. use of hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, personal water bottles, insect repellent, appropriate clothing).

Students must receive instruction on safety procedures related to severe weather conditions (e.g., lighting, funnel clouds, severe winds, tornadoes [consult Appendix F - Lighting Protocol]).


On-site supervision is required by the instructor when students are kayaking.

Supervision Ratios

(A supervisor is a teacher, parent/guardian/volunteer or trip guide. This term is used only in relation to supervision ratios.)

1 supervisor per 8 students

Instructor Qualifications

A trip guide or instructor must possess ORCKA Flatwater Kayaking Instructor Certification, Paddle Canada Basic Kayak Instructor, or equivalent.

Lifeguard Qualifications

A teacher, trip guide or instructor over the age of 18 must have a current National Lifeguard (N.L.) certificate.

Supervision for the Swim Test

There must be a minimum of two certified swimming instructors/lifeguards on deck or in the pool.

Supervision ratio is 2 instructors/lifeguards per 50 students, with both instructors/lifeguards certified as outlined below.

In situations where there are 51-75 students, an additional certified instructor or lifeguard (NL) is required. The instructor requires the same certification as listed below.

Instructor Qualifications for the Swim Test

One swimming instructor must also hold one of the following current certifications:

  • National Lifeguard Certificate (NL)
  • Standard First Aid Certificate (e.g., Red Cross, Lifesaving Society, St. John Ambulance, Canadian Ski Patrol)

All other swimming instructors must hold one of the following current certifications:

  • Canadian Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Award
  • Lifesaving Society Instructor Certificate plus an Assistant Lifeguard Certificate
  • Lifesaving Society Swim Instructor Certificate plus an Assistant Lifeguard Certificate
  • YMCA Instructor Certificate
  • Ontario Teachers Aquatic Standard (OTAS) - for pool situations only
  • National Lifeguard Certificate (NL)

Verified copies of certification must be available in the pool area.

First Aid and Emergency Action Plan

At least one teacher, trip guide, instructor or supervisor must have one of the following current first aid certifications:

  • N.L.S. lifeguard certificate
  • St. John Ambulance’s Emergency First Aid with CPR C + AED
  • St. John Ambulance Wilderness First Aid
  • Canadian Red Cross Emergency First Aid & CPR (Level C)
  • Canadian Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid
  • Canadian Ski Patrol First Aid Certificate
  • Equivalent to any of the above.

Follow the school’s emergency action plan including accessibility to a vehicle for transportation of a student to hospital (consult Appendix E - Emergency Action Plan).

Safety Craft

If instruction is taking place in a pool, no safety craft is required.

A safety craft is a designated craft that is rescue-capable, taking into consideration necessary factors (e.g., distance from shore, weather, water and wind conditions), and contains at least one instructor, trip guide or individual who meets the first aid certification.

A safety craft must be in the water and accessible while students are kayaking. The safety craft need not be motorized. If the safety craft is a motorized craft then the operator of the motorized safety craft must have a Pleasure Craft Operator Card. The operator of the safety craft, whether craft is motorized or not, must have experience in navigating the craft.

Also see Generic Section to view complete safety requirements.