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Spring Danger M

arch brings our first hopes of warmer days, a break from the cold grip of winter. Spring also

brings an insidious danger in our midst, many of whom are not aware of it and every spring, unsuspecting victims in our region succumb to it. You may ask “why do I need to know

this information?” I ask you: Do you ever hike? Do you paddle a kayak or canoe or spend any time walking in the woods or on a greenway? Do you bike, horseback ride, are you a runner, or do you partici- pate in ANY activity outdoors at all? If the answer is yes, then you may need this information.

Guessed it yet? According to the CDC, almost 700

people die from this condition each year in the U.S., every one of them preventable and many victims were NOT in extreme wilderness conditions as you may expect, they were on local trails or lakes, near populated areas, with help supposedly nearby.

Some of these people were on land

but many succumb to this stealthy killer in a different manner, and that is exposure to cold water. Unknowingly or stubbornly, they head out in their boats on a warm spring day but the water is still deadly cold. They dress for air temperature not water temperature and immersion. According to the American Canoe Association, if the water and air temperature do not add up to 120 degrees, you need to wear a wetsuit a drysuit or stay home and wait for more favorable conditions. When a person falls in to cold water, there is an involuntary gasp that you cannot control. That gasp brings water into the lungs and causes drowning. If you did survive the cold wa- ter gasp/shock, you have precious few moments before hypothermia sets in and you will lose basic function of your fingers, hands, and eventually your core tempera-

Natural Triad Magazine MARCH 2014 39

ture will drop below 95 degrees and you will die.

Hypothermia, yes, it is spring’s stealthy

killer. What can you do to prevent it? Wear synthetic clothing when experiencing the outdoors, layer them and take a hat and gloves and consider carrying a small fire making kit and emergency heat blanket. When on the water, always wear a pfd (life jacket), they give you time to get rescued and take a dry bag with a towel and dry clothes. There is all kinds of research and material available online to educate your- self so you can prevent this needless dan- ger. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, consider taking a Wilderness First Aid class and before trusting someone else to take you into the wilderness, ask them their qualifications, they should have at mini- mum a WFA certification. Know the water temperatures and the detailed weather forecast, but realize that the weather fore- casts aren’t always right! And don’t be fooled, you can die from hypothermia in the summer as well, it is not limited to

cooler months. Heed the “cotton kills” mantra and avoid wearing cotton in the great outdoors. Now that you are aware of spring’s

stealthy killer, you can go out and enjoy the great outdoors this spring, have fun, and most importantly, RETURN.

Jo Proia is an ACA Certified Kayak Instruc- tor and Guide with GET:OUTDOORS WOMEN ON THE WATER in Greensboro and certified in Wilderness First Aid. She has a passion for inspiring women to ex- plore the outdoors. GO WOW is a sup- portive, encouraging environment for women to learn how to kayak on flat water and beyond as well as basic YOGA water- side to encourage flexibility and enhance paddling skills and enjoyment. Please join GO WOW on Facebook - www.facebook. com/getoutdoorswomenonthewater. Jo can also be reached at wow@getoutdoors. us or via website: www.shopgetoutdoors. com. See ad on page 17.

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