This is a great discussion. And an important topic to discuss. I have a bit of a background with hypothermia. I am a fire fighter and an Ice/water Rescue Instructor for my Fire Dept. I just want to share I bit of info.
Stages of cold water immersion:
Cold Shock Response - This includes the Gasp reflex but also includes rapid breathing and hyperventilation. Lasts about 1 minute
Cold Incapacitation - Start to loose movement of hands and feet then arms and legs as your body tries to preserve heat and circulation to the body's core. At about 10 minutes you can't help yourself anymore.
Hypothermia - Starts to occur at about 30 minutes. Has 3 stages: Mild - shivering, Moderate - unconsciousness and Severe - cardiac arrest.
I like to teach the 1 - 10 - 1 Principle starting from the time of immersion.
1 minute to get breathing under control.
10 minutes to be able to help yourself.
1 hour to unconsciousness.
That first 10 minutes is crucial to kayakers. Especially ones like myself that paddle alone and on bodies of water with hypothermic potential. A paddler may only have that 10 minutes to help themselves with no one else to rescue them after they become incapacitated (one reason why I always carry a good marine radio).
As far as I am concerned, PFD's are always a must and Thermal Protection is always a must when paddling in conditions where there is the potential for hypothermia. No exceptions. Law or no law.
I also just want to add that in my experience, although I have encountered cold shock, I have never experienced, or even witnessed the Gasp reflex in which water was inhaled. I do know it exists but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the Gasp reflex being a main contributor in cold water immersion fatalities.
One more thing about the bike helmet discussion. Many accidents involving a car and a cyclist occur to low speeds such as when a vehicle makes a turn and collides with a cyclist. A helmet helps to protect the most important part of the human body. The brain. Surprisingly the human body can take some serious punishment and damage and survive but the brain can suffer serious damage from what may appear to be a small and insignificant "hit" or "blow". So it seams prudent to me to wear a helmet and protect your brain.
Edited by chad (03/17/13 09:49 AM)
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