Understanding the implications of water temperature is a critical aspect of safety on the water. All ARC river users should become familiar with the dangers of cold water. The links below will help you understand the risks and what you can do to avoid becoming a victim. In addition to the risks of cold water itself, you should recognize the dangers of being wet and cold even after you have gotten off the water. Have an exit plan. If you intend to be out when the weather and water are cold, be able to communicate. Know where and how you can get off the river and reach warmth and safety in the shortest possible time.What is the Water Temperature in the Merrimack River Now?
Articles and Reports on Hypothermia and Cold ShockEssential reading if you intend to go out when the water is cold. Most of these articles were not written for rowers but the water is just as cold when you flip a rowing shell as it is when flip a sea kayak or fall out of a fishing boat.
OFF-SEASON BOATING, COLD SHOCK and HYPOTHERMIA
IMPORTANT! When you are suddenly exposed to very cold water, your first problem is not hypothermia, it is staying alive long enough to be in danger of getting hypothermia. Do scroll down this linked page and look at the picture of the guy in the grip of cold water gasping reflex. This fellow is not expelling air by shouting out in pain. He is inhaling instantly and involuntarily with a huge uncontrollable gasp as his body is immersed in very cold water – and he is not even fully immersed. This cold water gasping reaction cannot be stifled. If it’s going to happen it’s going to happen. There is no room here for macho or “it can’t happen to me”. If this happens to you while your head is under water as you fall out of a boat, there is a good chance you will inhale enough water to drown immediately without even getting to the difficult decisions about what to do next.
Cold Water Shock and Swimming Failurehttp://www.seakayakermag.com/2008/Feb08/cold-shock.htm
Hypothermia Prevention: Survival in Cold Waterhttp://www.seagrant.umn.edu/coastal_communities/hypothermia
Cold Water Survivalhttp://www.shipwrite.bc.ca/coldwater.htm
Cold water immersion guidance - Avoid becoming a casualtyhttp://www.britishrowing.org/upload/files/RowSafe/FurtherGuidance/ColdWaterImmersionGuidance-19Mar09.pdf
Survival in Cold Waters (2007) - TP 13822
One of the definitive studies on the significance of the first two stage - cold shock and swimming failure as a cause of death. The precise details of these are described in this publication. 85 pages and requires a download.
If You’re in the Water
Techniques for using your boat as flotation and making headway toward safety.
Stay With The Boathttp://www.britishrowing.org/upload/files/Association/WaterSafety/CapsizePoster.pdf
Sources for PFD’s
Mustang Survival- Inflatable Life Jackets
Stormy Seas - Inflatable Flotation Clothing
Inflatable Life Jackets: What to Know Before They Blow - Special Report, Foundation Findings Report #30C - July 2000