Adam and Mark went yaking last Monday and it was pretty cold and windy outside (Louisville, KY). I love my husband and Mark is a good friend, so naturally I was worried about both of them due to the chilly temperatures.
Here are some notes for those interested in not freezing to death:
Hypothermia occurs when the body cools below its normal core temperate. Blood is pulled from the skin surface and extremities to maintain a core temperate and protect vital organs. Shivering tries to create body heat as the muscles fire with abandon. The early stages of hypothermia can produce clumsiness (I have that already!) as manual dexterity is lost.
Often, mildly hypothermia paddlers will become slow to respond to command or questions. These symptoms can be disastrous for paddlers and can happen quickly when the person is immersed in cold waters.
Water Temp Useful Work Unconscious
32.5 d F less than 5 min less than 15 min
40 d F 7.5 min 30 min
50 d F 15 min 60 min
60 d F 30 min 2 h
70 d F 45 min 3 h
Proper Clothing is the best defense against Hypothermia...
Both wet suits and dry suits will protect the body when immersed in cold water. Wet suits, which are made of closed-cell material, trap a thin layer of water against the body, which is rapidly heated and insulated by the material. The body remains warm until this layer of insulation is overwhelmed. Wet suits come in a wide range of thickness, from 0.5 to 6 mm. The workhorse of a paddling wet suit is usually a 3mm farmer John or Jane.You still need to wear a thermal underwear top under your wet suit and a windproof layer, like a paddling jacket, on top.
Of course, the best way to stay warm is to REMAIN DRY (thank you captain obvious). Dry suits enclose the body in waterproof material that is closed at the neck, ankles, and wrists by latex gaskets and have a bulky, waterproof zipper across the chest for entry. Also wear thermals underneath your gear since you can still feel the cold water through the material even as you remain dry. The layers in this suit will transport your moisture to the surface where it can be expelled through the membrane. Dry suits are windproof, so you should stay nice and toasty. Dry suits are more expensive...less than your yak but more than your paddles. And also note they do require some regular maintenance to protect the latex gaskets and keep the layered membrane unclogged.
Once you have your suit and jackets, don't forget your neoprene gloves, mittens or pogies and of course who could forget, a hat. A neoprene beanie or full hoods will help you insulate from the sudden shock of immersing your head in cold water (if God forbid you fall in). "Cold shock" is when you gasp as a instance reaction to the freezing water...imagine doing this underwater. Cold shock has been suspected for years that many of drownings due to hypothermia may have actually occurred as the result of this gasp reflex.
Thanks for reading this and be sure to read more about water safety-knowledge is power. And Adam (and Smushed Fishy) regardless of what I say...I kinda like having ya'll (yes ya'll) around.
This information is from The Complete Sea Kayaker's Handbook by Shelley Johnson