Monday, April 11, 2011

Drain the Gene Pool – Cold Weather Edition

As I was reminded by a friend of mine today, I had a run in with a few “intellectually challenged” individuals the first weekend of April. 
The setting – Rudee inlet. 
The water temperature -  47 degrees. 
Air temperature – 50 degrees
The individuals – Myself, and two others in touring kayaks.
As I am working my way back to the ramp to meet up with a new member of TKAA, (gjmac23) for a tour of the inlet, I hear a loud splash.  I look to my left and there are two guys in touring kayaks, one of which is in the water.  As he is attempting to right his boat and re-enter, you can see the cold draining his body.  After two unsuccessful attempts, I rush over to provide aid.  He was about 50 yards from shore, in 20-30 fow.   I quickly calm him down, and convince him to get back to shore.  After a quick discussion (telling him that if he tipped me, I would protect myself), I get him back to safety.  Throughout all of this I noticed a few concerning parts, which could have helped make this situation less threatening.
1.       If you paddle in cold water, be prepared to go swimming.  The individual who I helped had a dry top and a PFD, but was wearing regular pants.  A good rule of thumb is the 120 degree rule. 
a.       Combine the air and water temperature.
b.      For every degree less than 120 degrees (combined), your risk for hypothermia increases.
2.       Know self rescue in warm and cold water!
3.       Don’t drink on the water (A six pack of “Dollar General” type imported beer was rewarded to me for my actions.  Mark, how was the beer?).  It is even worse when someone else can smell the alcohol from five feet away.
4.       Be a friend, if it is someone’s first time on the water; don’t put them in a life threatening position.  I am sure that the intent of the day was to have a nice paddle and have some brews.  That was not the case for these individuals that day.
I recommend knowing basic first aid principles, and if at all possible, take a wilderness survival class.  Remember, if you cannot safely assist someone in a bad situation, don’t.  It is better to have one person the rescue squad needs to worry about then two.
Be safe, be smart, and have fun.  Also if you find a cheap 24oz can of imported beer in Rudee, I want it back as I was only able to recover 5 of the glorious brews.

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