Our hiking and cycling trails are well travelled this time of year by folks looking to take in the fall colours. Canoe and kayak can also offer a different perspective of the colours along the riverbank, but with air and water temperatures dropping, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers this might present.
Cold water shock is the most immediate concern and can come about due to immersion in waters below 15 degrees Celsius. Cold water shock can cause involuntary gasping, hyperventilating, and rapid breathing, which can all greatly increase the risk of drowning.
Hypothermia is not a new concept to many, but what a lot of people fail to realize is that cold water can lower body temperature much faster than air temperature alone. Because of this, it’s important to always prepare for the water temperature and not just the air temperature.
The good news is that there are ways to help ensure safety on the water this time of year. Below is a list of resources that everyone should check out if you’re considering extending the paddling season and taking in the fall colours.
Cold Water Paddling Safety Resources
- Grand River Conservation Authority Water Quality/Temperature
- Red Cross Canada: Hypothermia and Cold Water Preparedness
- Transport Canada Cold Water Survival Tips
- Canadian Safe Boating Council – Cold Water Awareness Resources