Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Missing Hunters

Two local hunters who were in canoes in the Tensaw River, a river which can be treacherous, have gone missing. Their canoe was found downstream with guns still in it. An interview on TV with the wife of one of the missing kayakers indicated the hunters may not have had life jackets with them. That is really sad.

Some people think I may over emphasize wearing a life jacket in the winter time. But, just about every year we hear the same story of a local hunter or boater perishing in the cold waters somewhere in the Delta or offshore. Temperatures may be in the 70s, perfect for wearing shorts and a t-shirt, but recent cold snaps brought the water temperatures down to about 50 degrees.

When water is that cold, the 1-10-1 principle applies. If you fall into the water, you'll gasp for air and it'll take about 1 minute to get your breathing under control. If you survive that, which even some of the fittest people don't, you have about 10 minutes of useful movement before muscles lock up - that is if you have your lifejacket on!

Hypothermia conditions won't set in for about an hour. Despite the widespread talk about hypothermia being a killer, most people drown long before they reach that condition. Falling into cold water without a life jacket on means your chances of survival is slim to none. A study from 1977 showed that 55 percent of drownings occurred within 10 feet of safety and that two thirds of the drowning victims were strong swimmers.

So, if I am kayaking in a group and someone isn't wearing their life jacket, and I say some smart ass remark like, "I see we have an organ donor with us today," now you know why. I don't want you to die, but I will respect your choice to not wear your life saving device. Unfortunately by the time the body of a drowning victim is recovered, his organs are not suitable for donation.

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