Photograph by Dave Conley
LAST FIVE STANDING — This cold-water object lesson started with 10 East Grand Outdoor Education students standing in a sled full of slush water. The last two standing were DJ Shurmann and Billy Holmes. The object lesson was designed to drive home the point about cold water-related injuries and the importance of proper training, good equipment, good clothing and sound judgment when venturing out on Maine’s rivers and lakes this spring. Standing in the ice water are, from left, Holmes, Kevin Haggerty, Shurmann, Neal Noble and Chet Knights.
As March starts the beginning of the Maine canoe and kayak races, East Grand Outdoor Education instructor Dave Conley is preparing his students for the challenge of springtime rivers and lakes by using cold-water object lesson.
Conley fills a sled full of slush water and the students get to experience the ‘cold’ first-hand. The lesson proves to be beneficial, as students promptly understand how cold water gets just standing in it, let alone being submerged.
“The object lesson was designed to drive home the point about cold water-related injuries and the importance of proper training, good equipment, good clothing and sound judgment,” said Conley.
Other advice Conley offers when venturing out paddling this spring is as follows: Always wear a proper fitting type III life jacket with a signaling whistle attached; wear proper paddling clothes; don’t paddle alone; have a waterproof day bag with high energy snacks, fire starter, extra clothing and a cell phone; let others know when and where you are going and when you expect to return; stay off large waterways and lakes during windy days; use a high degree of caution when paddling on streams and rivers that are of high water level and avoid strainers; when possible, paddle with friends using two or more boats and do not consume alcohol while paddling.
The expected survival times in cold water provided by the U.S. Search and Rescue Task Force chart are as follows: Water temperature 32 degrees Fahrenheit, exhaustion and unconsciousness in under 15 minutes, with expected survival time under 15 to 45 minutes; water temperature 32.5 – 40 degrees F, exhaustion and unconsciousness, 15-30 minutes with an expected survival time of 30-90 minutes; water temperature 40 -50 degrees F, exhaustion and unconsciousness, 30-60 minutes with an expected survival time of 1-3 hours and water temperature 50-60 degrees F, exhaustion and unconsciousness, 1-2 hours with an expected survival time of 1-6 hours.
The Maine Canoe and Kayak Racing Organization begins its Downriver Series with its first race on the St. George River March 26. The six-mile whitewater race starts at 11 a.m.
Photograph by Dave Conley