Peter, thanks for your input. The bicycle helmet article in SA was interesting, but certainly shows that much more tightly conceived and executed experiments/observations need to be done to determine exactly what the real-world consequences of bicycle helmet-wearing are. Regarding whether your points one and three correspond to kayaking is another matter. Your Point One: it's been well-established that it is not hypothermia that is the primary killer in cold-water capsizes; it's Cold Shock, with the companion involuntary Gasp Reflex causing the sudden inhalation of water--the PFD works to somewhat prevent the degree of facial submergence upon capsize that results in the inhalation. The PFD also provides the needed buoyancy to allow the victim time to gain control over their breathing function, and to begin to effect a self-rescue. The phenomenon of someone being plunged into cold water (without a PFD) and sinking immediately like a stone is well documented. I remember well reading a tale of a fit, vigorous fisherman falling suddenly, accidently, from his boat into an icy Canadian lake, and going right to the bottom and coming to rest, stone dead, in 30 feet of crystal-clear water before the horrified eyes of his companions. Their attempts to get to him ended when they found themselves barely able to get back into the boat themselves.
Your Point Three: I cannot get my mind around a scenario whereby seeing somebody wearing a PFD while kayaking would deter someone from taking up the activity. The lakes and reservoirs here in New Jersey that require the wearing of PFDs are choked with happy paddlers in every sort of kayak on your usual nice paddling day. And it's a familiar phenomenon that newcomers to virtually every sort of activity quickly adopt what they perceive as the usual, routine garb and behavior of that activity--you see people out on the lake kayaking, and wearing PFDs as a matter of course, and you do likewise. We are also finding out that off-season, cold-water paddlers here in NJ routinely now wear drysuits--an idea that the sea kayaking industry scoffed at 25 years ago.
But, law or no law, I routinely wear my PFD while boating, my seat belt while driving, and, if I cycled, I'd certainly wear my helmet while out on the road or trail.
Edited by Strange_Magic (03/02/13 06:22 AM)