The dangers of spring-time kayaking: The air is warm, but the water is still cold

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Since the start of the pandemic, more people have been enjoying our local waterways than ever before. But water takes longer to warm up than the air and you may be at risk for hypothermia if you fall in.

TWRA spokesman Barry Cross wants Tennesseans to enjoy the outdoors but to keep safety in mind.

“When we get this kind of temperatures, like what we have today, and you know, the mid-80s, people forget that the water temperatures haven’t warmed up as much as the air. So you could still run the risk of developing hypothermia. A lot of our lakes are in the upper 50s to 60 degrees, and that’s cold.” 

Kayakers in particular may be vulnerable since this type of watercraft is more prone to tipping over. Cross recommends always having a life jacket on or easily accessible.

“Today’s kayaks are really stable craft, but they are prone to tipping over. And like I said, cold water. If you get thrust into cold water unexpectedly, it could cause you to inhale and inhale some water into your lungs.”

Checking conditions before you head out on the water is also something that you should do.

“We also recommend that, you know you check the weather before you go out and avoid conditions that are especially if you’re going to be kayaking, avoid conditions, they’re not going to be suitable for kayaking, like heavy winds or if the water is above what normal stage for that particular body of water is.”

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