Cold water greets spring paddlers
After a long, cold winter, Iowa paddlers are itching to get out this spring and enjoy the state’s many water trails by paddling and fishing.
“Many new paddlers don’t realize that even though the air temperature is warm, the water can still be ice cold,” said Todd Robertson, a certified paddling instructor at the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
“As spring arrives, it takes a while for that water to warm up, making it necessary to have a wetsuit or drysuit and a change of dry clothes in a dry bag in case you dump your boat,” he continued.
Debris presents hazards
Cold water is not the only danger this time of year.
Recent ice breakups have caused many streams to gather downed trees and debris and deposited these “strainers” at the base of bridge pilings and the outside of tight bends in the river.
“Having good boat control skills and understanding how to navigate around hazards is crucial to remaining safe while paddling on the rivers,” Robertson said.
Safety tips for paddling
• Wear a life jacket.
• Dress for the water temperature, not the air.
• Have good boat-control skills.
• Know river hazards and how to avoid them.
• Stay away from strainers, wood/branch piles that can pull a paddler under.
• Don’t paddle alone.
• Take a dry bag with extra dry clothing.
• Let others know the paddling location and an expected return time.
• Do not wear cotton. Cotton absorbs water.
• Know the stages of hypothermia.