Newbie Question: Whistle Location?

Flame deflector: Did search…

Reading through the article about kayaking equipment I came across this statement:

“Need to shout? Save your voice, carry a whistle with you at all times. Buy several and put them in several places in your gear, in your clothing, but NEVER attach it to the zipper on your PFD! It’s unsafe and marks you as a major rookie!”

Simple question: Why?

that’s interesting …
i’m not a rookie and have been carrying my whistle on the zipper of my PFD for 40 years. i wonder what i’ve been not getting into?

Everyone knows
You have to have your rabbit’s foot on your PFD zipper…

what then about
astral whose zipper pull IS the whistle???

Seriously though
ther is a POSSIBILITY that while climbing back into a boat during a recovery, or being recirculated in a keeper hole the whistle might yank the slider down.

Of course, if the manufacturer includes one on the slider, it is USCG=Approved and all is well.

Personally, I have a greater worry about the whistle catching on something and damaging the zipper - making for an expensive repair of replacement. I keep mine on a short loop tied around a shoulder strap.


Your know… in jest…
1. It’s all about entraptment. You could get some body hair caught in the thingie if you paddle in the buff, unzipped or something. The whistle of death.

2. Worse yet, the drag of the whistle in fast moving water will cause your PFD to unzip, thus seperating you from it. The PDF will survive, but you will DIE!

3. Your pullover PFD has no zipper, thus no whistle when you need one and you DIE!

4. You should not need a whistle. Relying on equipment is just BAD. You should practice whistling over and over and over so that you don’t have to think about it. Then when you need to whistle…

5. Attach it to your rescue stirup.

1 Like

My whistle is feathered 60 degrees and
was designed by a panel of ACA coaches. It has reflective tape on each side and is bungied to soften the impact when I draw it from my PFD. I am quite sure Confluence sells a version of this under one of their 682,941 brand names. It also floats and the mouth piece cleans up real well with a bit of single malt.

Augustus Dogmaticus



– Last Updated: Aug-30-06 6:57 PM EST –

Its often necessary to communicate with members of your group. Shouting is often lost in the noise of rapids, but hand signals can be seen for a considerable distance. Whistles are carried for emergencies only. The international distress signal is 3 whistle blasts followed by a pause. Occasionally a short "chirp" is used as a "heads up" signal to focus the attention of an individual or group on a a dangerous situation that is developing, such as an unseen swimmer or a need to paddle immediately into an eddy.
Overuse of whistle signals crates a summer-camp atmosphere that most river runners find annoying & confusing. Source: Whitewater Rescue Manual/Charles Walbridge & Wayne A. Sundmacher

Personal responsibility & preparedness:
Carry equipment needed for unexpected emergencies, including footwear that will protect your feet when walking, a throw rope, knife, whistle, and waterproof matches. Source: Whitewater Rescue Manual/Safety Code of American Whitewater

Some people believe that attaching a whistle to the zipper on you pfd may result in the pfd's zipper being damaged if/when you attempt to re-enter a swamped canoe or kayak, and the whistle catches on some obstruction. Others believe that the whistle may catch on something, and you will accidentally unzip the zipper on your pfd at the wrong time & place.

I have personally seen both scenarios occur. I have also seen a river knife pulled from its sheath on a swamped canoe reentry.

I wear my whistle on the shoulder strap of my pfd; it is snugly attached to the shoulder strap with parachute cord. It has never presented a problem, and I've had one on my pfd since I was certified as a Swiftwater Rescue Instructor in l995.

I have used my whistle "on numerous occasions" to communicate problems/potential problems to other paddlers who could not see me, or hear me because of obstructions, boulders, and/or river rapid noise.

Put one on your pfd. What have you got to lose;
the cost of a whistle & a piece of para cord?
It might come in handy one day; the one who needs help may be you.

I know a lot of paddlers who never carry a first aid kit or throw rope.
I never had a damn one refuse the offer of my first aid supplies when they were hurt, and none of the people I pulled out of whitewater refused to grab hold of my throw rope when I threw it to them.

Is a whistle a "must have" piece of safety equipment. Probably not, but it does come in handy on occasion, and those are the time it matters.


P.S. Check out some of your responders profiles.
Ask the sea kayakers if they go out without their radio, rescue stirrup, paddle float, spare paddle, flotation bags, and flares? Or is all that stuff just useless crap and they leave it in the vehicle? LOL!

I don’t carry a whistle…
…since I prefer to carry a Safety Blaster horn. It’s much louder and the lower tone carries farther. Carrying it on a zipper pull would look incredibly stupid!

Whistle Size
(Not sure if this is safe to try…)

Seriously, the first thing that comes to mind is that the smallest whistle I have found that actually works to get anyone’s attention over distance or near something like a waterfall is a little larger than I’d want on the zipper of my PFD. Even considering I have a Kokatat vest that passes CG specs just being clipped, zipper open. The ones that work worth a darn, which means they are loud enough that it hurts my own ears to blow them full tilt, aren’t very compact.

Size isn’t everything
and I will exit this thread right now and go sit in the corner for that one.

Seriously, I have no idea why a whistle on a zipper would be a sin. I put mine in the most convenient spot which was on the latch on the left breast pocket of my PFD. The zipper was not an option for me, but if it was the best place, it would have gone there.

Acme Thunderer

Made in England

About $6.50

Very small, very loud, very unobtrusive for those who are worried about what someone else might say about wearing a whistle on your pfd.


Storm whistles work pretty well…

– Last Updated: Aug-31-06 9:23 AM EST –

...but they're somewhat bulky as whistles go. Perhaps that's what you're referring to. The little flat whistles that come with most "kayak safety" kits are pretty much useless as anything other than a zipper pull.

A joke of a whistle
Have any of you seen the combination Fastex buckle/whistles designed for sternum straps?

I bought one on impulse at REI, and it is pathetic. Size does matter!


not a sin
more along the idea that water would be able to open your zip because of more drag from that whstle…if all conditions were unfortunably met

Whistle on shoulder strap is out of the
way and can be used hands free by turning head. Whistle on zipper usually requires hands and can get in the way. Do what you want, but carry a whistle or sound signal device. In IL, it is required. I think most areas in U.S. require one.

cold air , cold lips
whistles are useful for herding kids but once people get 100’ away and it’s windy they aren’t as effective as the air horns. I was surprised at how hard it was to use a whistle in very cold air with a very cold face, I couldn’t hold onto the whistle without biting onto it. The problem I had with little air horns was the plastic horn snapping off in rough use.

I never heard that
I used to keep my whistle on my PFD zipper, and can’t imagine any way it would drag me down. It had a plastic clip, not a split ring as shown in the picture:

and kept coming off, probably because I was so tempted to use the thing as a zipper pull, so I think if mine would have gotten entangled it would have broken off before holding me. I got tired of almost losing the thing, so I put it on my PFD pocket zipper instead.