Paddler safety is of the upmost importance at Paddle Antrim. Northern Michigan is expected to see air temperatures in the range of 70 degrees this week but the water is still extremely cold. During this strange time of social distancing, many are relying on nature for entertainment which means paddlers are likely itching to get out on the water. Now more than ever it is important to keep in mind the danger of cold water.
While the air may feel more like summer, the many lakes are much cooler, some only 40-60 degrees. At these temperatures a wetsuit or a full immersion dry suit 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. Paddle Antrim wants everyone to know the risks of cold water. If you don’t have the right equipment to take the necessary precautions, please stay off the water until it warms.
“We encourage people to get out and enjoy the water but we also want to make sure people are safe at all times,” says Paddle Antrim Executive Director, Deana Jerdee. “While the air might be 70 degrees the water is still very cold, ensuring that you are taking the right precautions could save your life.”
Cold water claims of lives of many experienced and inexperienced paddlers each year. Please take the extra precautions to ensure your safety. Here are the steps paddlers need to take before heading out on the water for any period of time:
- 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; and
- Refrain from using alcohol.
The link below is a cold water safety PSA featuring Paddle Antrim Executive Director, Deana Jerdee.
About Paddle Antrim
Paddle Antrim is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization who uses paddle sports to educate the public about our precious water resources. We support and promote investments in water trail infrastructures that facilitate public access to the waterways. We believe education, increased access, and promotion of our waterways will increase protection as well as enhance the economic vitality of Northern Michigan.