Hypothermia Alert: It's The Water Temperature, Stupid

As the spring air warms, the water can still be deadly cold to paddlers

The safety nuts at Canoe & Kayak (Just kidding, we love you!) have some advice today for you spring paddlers out there, with a suitably grim anecdote to drive their point home.

Let’s let the horror story do the talking, shall we?

On a mid-June day, just before summer officially arrived, an energetic 28-year-old man decided to take advantage of the dwindling time left of his honeymoon in Maine. Before he and his wife left their cozy cabin, he prepared to take one last trip on his rented sit-on-top kayak to explore Frenchman’s Bay’s picturesque waters.

Hooo, boy. I can see this one coming a mile away. Please continue, C&K:

The air temperature that day had been a relatively mild 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The water: 47 degrees Fahrenheit. Clad in a PFD, T-shirt and shorts, he told his wife he would be back in one hour, just in time for them to check out of their cabin.

An hour and a half after he promised he would return home, the U.S. Coast Guard and state rescue crews began their search, and found the man before sunset. They were too late.

There’s a pretty straightforward takeaway here: it’s the water temperature, stupid.

Although a drysuit with gloves and booties is recommended for water temperatures below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, says the article’s Coast Guard author, drysuits are expensive to the tune of $530 or more.

A wetsuit is a cheaper alternative, albeit with some cons, discussed in this helpful article at GoKayakNow.com. REI has its own guide for cold-weather paddle wear.

Regardless of your choice, the important thing is to remember that water doesn’t have to be freezing to kill you.

Via Canoe & Kayak.


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