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Cold Water Paddling Tips

Do you know the rule of 120? Add together combined air and water temperature. If the number is lower than 120 degrees, don’t paddle without a wet or dry suit. If it is less than 120 degrees, cold shock and hypothermia are risks. Right now the Percy Priest surface water temperature is 53 degrees. That’s chilly! The National Center for Cold Water Safety has lots of details about cold water dangers when the water is below 70 degrees.

We know it is hard not to paddle when the sun comes out, especially after we have been waiting all winter to get back out there. But sudden cold-water immersion is a real safety risk. If you are heading out before the water temps warm up, remember to follow best practices:

  • Wear a wet or dry suit
  • Don’t paddle alone
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back
  • Have a phone in a dry bag so you can contact someone in an emergency
  • Wear RoadID or other ID
  • Check weather and wind conditions before you head out
  • Know your paddling ability
  • Wear a PFD
  • Use a leash appropriate for the kinds of water in which you are paddling

Be safe and we’ll see you on the (warmer) water soon!

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