Here at Paddle Antrim paddler safety is of the upmost importance. Northern Michigan is expected to see air temperatures in the range of 70 degrees this week and while we are excited for the warmer weather we want to remind everyone that the water is still extremely cold. During this strange time of social distancing, many of us are relying on nature more than ever for entertainment which means you are likely itching to get out on your boats. Now more than ever it is important to keep in mind the danger of cold water and remind your friends and family of the threat as well.

While the air may feel more like summer, the many lakes are only about 40-60 degrees. At this temperature a wet suit or 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. We want 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.

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 you 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.

Below you can view a cold water safety PSA featuring our Executive Director, Deana Jerdee