First, there are two types of kayaks, a "sit-inside" and a 'sit-on-top'. They each handle very differently, and have unique challenges in an emergency.
A sit on top boat doesn't provide a lot of protection for the paddler from wind or water, but it likely will not sink, and is not too difficult to climb back aboard should you fall off.
A sit-inside kayak is usually less stable, and unless it has watertight bulkheads, it can fill with water and potentially sink. Getting back aboard a sit-inside kayak is a challenge and requires a great deal of practice and experience.
Whatever type of kayak you choose a paddler should never take to the water without wearing a personal floatation device, or PFD.
Above all remember that a PFD will save your life in the event you end up in the water unexpectedly. When you choose one, make sure it's comfortable to wear while you paddle, the more comfortable the better so you wont be tempted to take it off. This PFD should also have a whistle attached to it so you can attract attention should you need it.
In addition to your PFD and a whistle, a thirty foot throw line, and a bilge pump round out the basic gear that will help keep you safe. If you shop around, all the safety gear can be bought for about $50, and that's nothing compared to staying alive and enjoying your kayak experience.
Of course, getting training on how to handle your kayak is also critical. While West Texas may not have an abundance of training opportunities, those places are not too far away and well worth the trip. Simply 'Google' "Texas kayak training" and several sites will come up.
It all boils down to playing it safe and making sure you take some basic precautions. Check the weather, use a life jacket, get some training, and have some fun.
Kevin Osgood is the News Director for Big Country Homepage, and also an avid kayaker with several years of experience. This article is informational, and we urge any kayker, paddler, or rafter, to seek the proper training, and safety gear, before heading out on the water.