Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

A kinda sorta PSA

Something making the rounds in fakebuk in my kayaky groups is cold weather info.

I never really paid much attention to it, but I did take precautions. When I capsized duh!kee and swam, i was decked out in a full wetsuit and sprayskirt. That skirt is what kept my core warm, not (just) the suit. And the suit was not rated for the temps I was exposed to. Water temp was a robust 48°, and the air temp was mid 60ish. I was in water up to my neck for 20 minutes in a 3mm wetsuit, but actively swimming towing a kayak so didn’t feel chilled. That suit should have been a 5mm or a drysuit with fleece undergarments. I was lucky and I know it now.

Different situation, same suit. Rolling classes last year. Inside pool, water temp and air temp 70°. I was in the water for over 2 hours. When it was time to leave, I was shivering and shaking like I should have been in the first situation. What was different? Activity. 70° water sounds nice, but its still nearly 30° cooler than body temperature. Water will pull your heat out 20 times faster than air, and even with that wetsuit, I was losing heat. It helped certainly, but I was still standing chest deep in ‘cool’ water with little physical activity. One of the students was in quickdry garments and he was chilled in 30 minutes.

So, if you have any plans of any sort to be playing on water, whether it be fishing, kayaking or whatever, dress for the water temperatures. Wear stuff that limits your direct exposure to immersion (wetsuit/drysuit) and NEVER wear cotton clothes. They feel wonderful next to the skin, but they don’t easily shed water once wet, and will kill you quick either in or out of water, especially if its cold air. And always wear a floatation device. Its not just a ‘life jacket’. Consider those that have to search for you if things go sideways. Much easier to find someone on the surface than below it. And make sure your PFD fits right. My first one I owned was ‘good enough’ until my first capsize and I found out how dangerous a poor fitting PFD can be. I spent more time trying to stay IN IT, while I was trying to get back in my kayak. If I had been in rough water or current, I’d have been in serious trouble. The one I have now, I can jump off a 10′ ledge into water and it will stay put and pull me back to the surface. (Even strapped over a wetsuit, drytop, skirt tunnel and two fleece shirts; my normal wear now when water is below 50°) (yes, I am telling you to avoid the walmart crap floaty thingies and buy a decent PFD. Dont give a damn how high you are rated as a swimmer either; if the water is cold, you would be able to swim for only a few minutes before losing muscle control of your arms and legs. Even if you became hypothermic, that vest will keep you afloat, and even hypothermic, you have a better chance of living vs drowning because you couldn’t swim anymore)

Anywhoos, y’all take care out there, even if care is staying home in front of the fire, like I am doing, right now.

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