Careful, the water is COLD!
We watched an incident on Devil’s Lake last evening that could have been much worse than it turned out in the end. An organization had taken a group of high school age kids out onto the lake. The kids were dressed for summer, which is straight up dangerous if they end up in the water, which a few of these kids did.
I can’t express it enough. Even though the air temperatures are summer like, the water temps are still just crawling above freezing. When you fall into the water cold shock can be instant, cold incapacitation within 2 minutes and hypothermia is not far behind. What’s more, people are not well prepared. What happens if you fall in? Are you actually wearing your life jacket? Do you know how your body reacts to cold water immersion? How will you get to shore? Do you have warm clothes to change into? Do you even have access to a dry towel? As the old cliché’ goes, knowledge is the best piece of safety equipment you can have out there.
In yesterday’s incident there were a large number of boats on the water. One group of young men flipped their canoe. These guys were in shorts and not much else. As we watched, we realized that no one was getting the kids out of the water and back to shore some 20 yards away, they were more concerned with saving the boat. While the group worked to get the flooded canoe back into a floating condition, the boys remained in the water. Luckily it only took a few minutes to get the boat righted, then everyone paddled back to shore. A quick observation was all that was needed to see the young men where in the first stages of hypothermia. It would have been a great time to get them dry, into warm clothing and into a warmed vehicle. But again, if your group does not recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia or the possible dangers, it’s easy to just laugh the whole thing off until something bad happens.
Again, the water is cold. Be prepared, and be careful out there.
- Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia - Mayo Clinic
- Effects of Hypothermia when immersed in water – kayakquixotica.com
- Cold Shock & Gasping Reflex – kayakquixotica.com