Below is a list of what I recommend keeping in your creek boat no matter whether you are paddling Class II or Class V. Some people carry more, some people carry less, but in general, most people carry the same basic items (*).
1. Throw bag *
2. Break Down Paddle * (held in place by an airbag)
3. Pin kin (2 pulleys, 3 locking carabiners, 3 small diameter prussiks and 8 feet of tubular webbing) *
4. First Aid Kit (including duct tape)
5. Fleece hat and gloves
6. Emergency Blanket
7. Headlamp/small waterproof flashlight/glowstick
8. Waterproof Matches/lighter
9. Energy bar (s)
I like to keep items 3-9 in a drybag inside my boat, leaving the throw bag, breakdown paddle, and pin kit out for immediate use.
Yes, these items do make your boat substantially heavier, but are well worth carrying for that one time you use them. In addition, not only will they help you in a bad situation, they will help your friends.
In addition to those safety items in your kayak, consider those on your person.
1. Rescue Vest with a tow leash (most rescue vests have more flotation than the standard pfd. In addition, they have a tow leash, which allows you to clip yourself to a boat for a boat rescue, hook yourself to a rope for a live bait session, etc. They come in handy).
1. Whistle (1 whistle: pay attention, 3 whistle blasts: Help/Emergency)
2. Knife (anytime you are carrying a rope, you should also carry a knife)
Hopefully you'll never have to break out any of these items, let alone all at once, but if you do you will be grateful you packed your boat full of such goodies.
Stay safe out there, and if anyone has any safety suggestions of their own, feel free to add to the list! It's always great to pass around ideas!
Pray for Rain!