As temperatures in Northern Michigan are cooling down, Paddle Antrim warns paddlers to take precautions to protect themselves from heightened dangers of sudden, unexpected cold water immersion while on late-season paddle outings.
“The trees are changing color and taking fall paddles provides some of the most beautiful scenery in Michigan, but the water is getting cold. Paddlers need to take extra steps to protect themselves from the dangers of being suddenly swamped or stranded in cold water,” warns Deana Jerdee, Paddle Antrim’s executive director.
Right now water temperatures are about 60 degrees and dropping, therefore a wetsuit or a full immersion drysuit with insulating layers is necessary. Sudden immersion in cold water can cause gasping and inhalation of water and hypothermia, resulting in unconsciousness or swimming failure as muscles become numb. Wearing a life jacket may keep your head above water and support your body should your swimming ability fail or you become unconscious.
Should you ever find yourself in the water it is recommended that you stay with—and preferably on top of—your boat. Never overestimate your swimming ability. All too often people underestimate the distance to shore or the effects of cold water and unfortunately drown while attempting to make it to safety.
Paddle Antrim makes the following recommendations to paddlers heading out on the water:
- Always wear a properly fitted life jacket. Simply stated, life jackets save lives.
- Dress for the water temperature.
- Avoid boating alone and always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Have a cell phone or VHF radio accessible, in a watertight bag, should you need to call for help.
- Carry essential safety gear, signaling devices and whistles.
- Refrain from using alcohol.