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Paddling on Near-Freezing Water is Extraordinarily Dangerous

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These folks have no idea of the huge risk they're taking by paddling with no thermal protection on this guided kayak tour of an Alaskan glacier.

Irresponsible outfitters take novices on glacier kayak outings with no thermal protection, while clueless newbies are lured onto ice-cold water by Facebook and other social media posts that encourage unprotected winter paddling.


Every single time, it's an invitation to disaster. All it takes is a little slip of the paddle and an unintended capsize to set the stage for another tragedy.  

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No Thermal Protection

No Thermal Protection

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Here's a great example.  No thermal protection, and a waist-mounted, manually-inflatable PFD, worn backwards with the pull tab hanging where it will be most difficult to reach.  In the event that he falls off his board, he will likely drown before he can even think about inflating it. 

Children canoeing on icy water.  If they capsized, they'd be very lucky to survive.  Related Incident

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Here's another classic example.  YouTube video.  Banff, Canada in Springtime.  Paddling a canoe, with a dog onboard, on ice-filled water. No thermal protection, just a T-Shirt.  What could possibly go wrong?  1) Capsize, head goes under water, she gasps and drowns instantly.  2) Even if she surfaces without inhaling water, there's no way she's going to be able to swim to shore before her arms give out - even with that PFD.  This is an exceptionally dangerous environment, no matter how inviting, exciting, or "otherworldly" it looks.

Paddleboarders Ignoring Cold Water Safety.
Many don't even wear PFDs.  They would be lucky to survive a capsize under these conditions.

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Inflatable PFD pull-tab in hard-to-reach position

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Irresponsible Facebook Group Image
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This is the home page of a Facebook group that targets newbie SUP paddlers.  The paddler is solo on lethal 32F (0C) water.  No newbie paddler should be doing this.  It's an advanced trip that requires specialized gear and advanced rescue skills.

Reckless Rec-Boating

Kayakers in recreational boats like the ones below aren't much better.  It's particularly irresponsible for manufacturers to feature this kind of behavior in advertisements and also irresponsible for Facebook group Admins to permit posts like this.

Trifecta of Trouble
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This Facebook post is as bad and irresponsible as it gets: Booze, no PFDs, and no thermal protection.

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Wildly Irresponsible Ad Undermines Cold Water Safety


Unlikely to inflate the PFD before she drowns

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Ice-cold water, no PFD, no thermal protection.

Oru Kayak's Irresponsible Advertising

For more information: See our six-minute video Oru Kayak's Reckless and Irresponsible Advertising.

Dressed in street clothes.

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No PFD / No Protection

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No Protection / Snow / Hiking Boots

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No PFD / No Thermal Protection

No Protection / Ice-Cold Water

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Paddling alone on Ice-Cold Water

Bottom Line:

At a bare minimum, for-profit companies that make money selling paddling equipment, have a responsibility to promote safe paddling rather than undermining it with ads like the ones above.

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