Some of the good work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to promote cold water safety to help prevent accidents. As a former canoe and kayak instructor, I am eager to get back on the lakes and rivers as soon as ice-out (last remaining ice on a body of water) occurs.
Here in the northeast we’ve had chilly air temperatures all spring, but this week, we’re expecting a huge warm up: temperatures are expected to soar into the 80s. This can be tricky, because while the air is hot, the water is still dangerously cold. This warning is more relevant for folks living in northern climates, but practicing water safety can mean the difference between life and death.
John Jensenius of NOAA shared this caution:
The warm temperature expected over the next several days, combined with very cold waters, will create a hidden danger to those venturing out on the water, particularly those on kayaks and canoes. Water temperatures are mostly in the 40s in the lakes, rivers, streams across the area. Many lakes just had ice-out conditions during the last two weeks and melting snow continues to feed into some of our rivers and streams. Ocean water temperatures are currently in the mid 40s. Without cold water protective gear, these temperatures will incapacitate even a good swimmer in minutes. Of course, paddlers should always wear a life jacket, but they should also be aware that a life jacket will not protect you from cold water.
Preparing for weather and water conditions is always a smart thing to do. It will be a long, hot, steamy summer, so, take care at the start so you can enjoy the entire season.