September 23rd marked the end of the 2014 Summer Season and the beginning of Fall. For most people, it also marks the end of warmer water temperatures that are ideal for all types of paddle sports. However, if proper cold water safety measures are followed, Fall can be an even more enjoyable season for canoeing, kayaking, and paddle boarding excursions due to less insects such as mosquitoes, scenic surroundings and the changing color of leaves, and the fact that waterways will be less crowded.
If you plan to get out onto the water this Fall or Winter season and live in areas of the country with colder weather, make sure to follow the below cold water safety precautions.
1- Check weather and water conditions to make sure you are properly prepared and have the right gear to ensure a successful outing. Stay within your skill level, if in doubt – don’t go out!
2- Always dress for the water temperature, even if you aren’t planning on getting wet. A wet suit and dry top or dry suit are good options for colder water temperatures. Neoprene mittens and booties are also a good idea to keep your feet and hands warm.
3- Make sure you have plenty of snacks and warm beverages to drink before, during, and after your outing. Bring along a dry bag with a couple energy bars and a thermos for a non-alcoholic warm beverage to eat and drink during and after your outing.
4- In cold water conditions, always wear a life vest. Cold shock can often cause uncontrollable hyperventilation for one to three minutes, possibly resulting in a paddler swallowing large amounts of water and drowning. Depending on the water temperature, hypothermia can cause unconsciousness in as little as 15 minutes.
5- And last but not least, always have plenty of dry gear, snacks, and a warm beverage for after your outing. Turning the heat on in your car as soon as you get to it will also ensure that it’s nice and warm by the time you load up your gear and start on your way home.