Beware the cold water. When making the go/no go decision, ask yourself three questions: What is my level of conditioning? What is my ability level? Do I have the right gear? If you are learning you are going to be down in the water a lot more. Be sure you have done all you can to make sure you gear is in good working order and condition. When considering gear, your suit is critical. If you are new to the sport donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get caught making the assumption that a $99 wetsuit is going to do the job of a steamer or dry suit, which may look like a plain wetsuit. A steamer usually has a smooth, non-wicking skin, taped & glued seams, seals that let very little water in, and is constructed of a thicker neoprene. If the combined air and water temp is below 110 degrees F, booties, gloves, and a hood are wise. If the combined temp is below 80, well, that is where I draw the line. Everyone has to come up with there own guidelines. The important part is to do your research, talk to others, and have a plan before you show up with the adrenaline pumping.
Regarding what actually can happen, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s look at a scenario where you are ridding hard and making enough of your own heat and adrenaline to be comfortable, and then you drop the kite. 45 degree water feels like a kick in the face. Your adrenaline buzz goes away quickly and you need to get up quick. Stay in too long and your extremities start to feel like stumps, which makes it even harder to get going. It is a vicious cycle. Furthermore, when you temp really starts to drop, you start to feel like you have had a few cocktails further diminishing your decision making and coordination.
Symptoms usually develop slowly. Someone with hypothermia typically experiences gradual loss of mental acuity and physical ability. The key symptom of hypothermia is a body temperature that drops to less than 94 F. Signs include:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Slurred speech
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Abnormally slow rate of breathing
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Cold, pale skin
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Loss of coordination
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Fatigue, lethargy or apathy
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Irritability, combativeness
I have seen very competent riders with the correct gear towed in like a log due to hypothermia. We have also lost a waterman up at Little Point Sable who was ridding alone in cold water. So here are the tips:
1. Know your level of condition, ability, and gear.
2. DONÃ¢â‚¬â„¢T RIDE ALONE!
3. Know how to recognize the warning signs of hypothermia.
4. Know the air and water temp before you head out.
5. DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go out further than you are willing and able to swim.
Answer the following question, and have a great season!
I consider myself to be __________.
A. Intelligent, I learn from my own mistakes.
B. Wise, I learn from the mistakes of others.
C. Neither A. or B., I could end up a candidate for the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Darwin AwardÃ¢â‚¬