Keeping in mind that ocean water temperatures barely change throughout the year, this is one of the main reasons for wearing a PFD if you paddle in cold water.
Cold Water Kills is a new website giving a lot of information and statistics about cold water and it contains some very sobering facts. I don’t want to sound grim so remember to wear immersion gear if there a strong possibility for a swim, always carry some dry clothing to change into, and wear your PFD no matter what.
Here are some simple facts to keep in mind:
In 2004, 410 people drowned in Canada, 130 were boating.
60% drowned in water under 10 degrees C
34% drowned in water between 10 – 20 degrees C
Only 12% were properly wearing a lifejacket
2% were improperly wearing a life jacket
DISTANCE FROM SHORE
43% were less than 2 metres from shore/safety
66% were less than 15 metres from shore/safety
HOW THEY ENDED UP IN THE WATER
26% fell or were thrown overboard
48% were in a boat that capsized or was swamped
Non-swimmer = 29%
Weak = 15%
Average = 12%
Strong = 10%
Not identified = 34%
For more information about the effect of cold due to hypothermia you can read more on our Hypothermia page and here is a “cold water boot camp” video.
In a effort to not scare people away from the sport, talking about water temperatures is sometimes avoided. Which is unfortunate since people who are aware of the challenge and equipped for it are very comfortable and safe, and I LOVE COLD WATER WHEN I AM DRESSED FOR IT!