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Paddlesport, boating enthusiasts reminded to practice coldwater safety

Posted December 16, 2022

Life jackets are a critical part of boating safety  


PHOENIX — The weather is definitely on the cool side, at least by Arizona standards, which is why the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) reminds undeterred paddlesport enthusiasts to practice coldwater safety. 

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that cold water immersion and hypothermia can occur in water as cool as 70 degrees. Even in a healthy person, cold-water immersion can impact muscle movement, breathing and heart rate. Prolonged exposure to the water can lead to hypothermia, cardiac arrest and death. 

“Cold water immersion can be deadly so every second you’re in the water is a race against the clock,” said Josh Hoffman, the department’s boating safety education coordinator. “That’s why it’s critical to make sure you are prepared for the worst, before heading out on the water by making sure you’re properly dressed and always wearing a life jacket. It’s really the simplest thing you can do to save your own life and return home safely.”

Whether a person is enjoying Arizona’s waters from a paddleboard, kayak, canoe or boat, life jackets are a critical part of boating safety. They help to keep a person’s head above water and body on the surface. Life jackets are required for those 12 and younger, but wearing a life jacket is a simple step that will save a person’s life of any age.

If you do fall overboard, stay calm, move slowly and don’t try to take off clothing while in the water. If the boat has capsized, it most likely will not sink and can be used as a platform. It’s advised that boaters stay on top of the capsized vessel or paddleboard as much as possible in order to stay out of the water. 

Survival may also depend on how well you’re dressed to cope with cold water. The National Center for Cold Water Safety and the National Safe Boating Council recommend: 

Boaters also can brush up on their knowledge by taking one of AZGFD’s free education courses. Class schedules and details are posted online.