Before hitting the water in Ohio with your kayak, here are a couple things to keep in mind.
ODNR requires that all kayaks be registered with the state, and a copy of the registration must be with you, along with the registration sticker displayed on your boat. There are a couple exemptions (ie, registration from another state or sanctioned kayak competition), but otherwise you need to have your kayak registered. Click here for more information from ODNR about registering your watercraft
ODNR also requires that you have a PFD for each kayaker. While only children under 10 are required to wear their PFD, ODNR stats show that 80%-90% of all boating fatalities come from drowning and as such, it is recommended that you wear yours.
If paddling after dark anywhere in Ohio, you will need an electric, white light that is bright enough to be seen by other boats. Bright enough means that the other boats will be able to see you before causing a collision. Distress signals are not required in Ohio unless you are on Lake Erie after dark. In this case you will need a Coast Guard approved distress signal. Thankfully, a flare or even a blinking flashlight will work.
You will also need a noise maker if you are on Lake Eire, the Ohio River, or the Muskingum River. Officially that is called an audible signaling device. A typical lifeguard or police whistle will suffice.
Now that you know the requirements for paddling in Ohio, it is time to make sure that you are compliant. Early spring is a great time to get your gear in order and make sure that you are set for summer. Have fun and don’t forget that you too can help keep our waterways safe and clean.