Reviewing paddling safety basics

A column inspired by last month’s tragic incident on Stockton Lake is not an easy one to write.

Yet if any good can come out of it, it’s a reminder for all of us who enjoy paddling to review paddling safety basics before we’re distracted by warmer temperatures and hitting the water.

Right now, we’re in the middle of “false spring.” That deceptive time of year when a few 70-some odd degree days lull is into thinking that paddling season is finally here.

Yet, as I tell folks when discussing paddlecraft safety, two hard and fast rules are, “Dress for the water temperature, not just the air” and “anything but cotton.” 

Should you find yourself tipping your boat, there are three risks you face: cold shock response, incapacitation, and hypothermia. Paddling in water temperatures under 60 degrees increases these risks. 

Knowing self-rescue skills, such as being able to re-enter a kayak after tipping, are essential to staying safe on the water.

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