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I kayaked on my local lake this weekend, during unusually warm weather. I saw probably 2 dozen paddlers on the water and a few boaters. Of those, probably just 10% wore their pfd's and no one wore any immersion gear, as in a wetsuit or drysuit. Many just wore shorts and a T-shirt, and at least two guys were standing up in their kayaks, fishing in the middle of the lake.

Despite the warm air, I measured the surface temperature at 47*. Folks, that's life threatening water temperature. (For comparison, the cold water from your shower head is about 52*.) You NEED to wear your pfd and immersion gear this time of year. Capsizes happen in a fingersnap, so if you're on the water, you have to be dressed for that event. Involuntarily gasping a full lung inhalation of water cannot be a pleasant way to die, nor can be loosing muscle function and drowning, or hypotheria.

If you're a paddler or boater planning to head out in the next several months, please take the time to inform yourself on cold water dangers and safety.

http://www.coldwatersafety.org

And if that doesn't do anything for you, consider that beginning in 2012, the following regulation was established: "a person shall wear a Coast Guard approved personal flotation device (PFD or life jacket) during the cold weather months from November 1st through April 30th while underway or at anchor on boats less than 16 feet in length or any canoe or kayak."

Inevitably in the next few months, there will be news reports of local paddlers and boaters who capsized and drowned or otherwise "went missing". I cringe every time I hear that, knowing they could have been prevented.
 
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