Hypothermia revisited^

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Tourer
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Hypothermia revisited^

Post by Tourer » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:32 am

http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm

The Portsmouth Naval Institute has done some work about that as well.

Death from cold water immersion often isn't just due to hypothermia, more likely either cold water shock and water aspiration or inability to swim and drowning.

As a teenager I could have died swimming across a lake of ~ 2 km in ~ 20 C water - I noticed I couldn't move anymore, due to my muscles getting stiff, luckily I was rescued by a passing by fisherman.

After a Sauna in Finland a few years ago, (air -15 C) with a 25 m "swimming pool" cut in the lake next to it I swam just one length and just about managed to get to the end.

With my then new dry suit and good layers of insulation underneath I got into near 0 degree water up to the belly and felt very uncomfortable after a few minutes.

On a very hot summer day I paddled a few hours in shorts and T shirt in a breeze of 4-5 Bft, so getting wet now and then - and ended up with stage I hypothermia which took me a good day to recover from. The lesson is never paddle without some splash protection.

Quite often we see sea paddlers in winter with neoprene pants and a wooly hat, the latter will take a swim on immersion. I prefer a helmet with lining, since that has a chin strap. Neoprene is either a nuisance due to skin rash, fungus and overheating when dry or a potential danger when wet & wind.

Now and then I see paddlers with inflatable life jackets but that can be a death trap since swimming isn't possible when inflated.

On a rescue training day I noticed someone getting pale so persuaded him to use my Chillcheater balaclaca that I always carry in my b.aid. He was ~ 160 and slim, with dry suit.

Whether cold water swimming in a pool/pond maybe Sauna and then a cold water plunge can train to survive immersion is something I don't know.

I am a life long all year cyclist and outdoor sports person raised in a country with real winters BMI 25,6 but have lost a worrying amount of fitness this winter.

What about office workers taking car or tube to work who decide to get into paddling in middle age, via a centre/tour organiser perhaps ?

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by ian.miller » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:40 am

" Now and then I see paddlers with inflatable life jackets but that can be a death trap since swimming isn't possible when inflated"

Correct but then you cannot swim sensibly in most paddling gear including a BA. Try swimming to catch a wind driven empty boat. At least with an inflatable life jacket you can partialy deflate it to improve your chances of swimming and you can inflate it again with the mouth tube. Drowning when cold and unable to prevent spray inhalation is much more likely with a 50N BA than a 150N Life Jacket

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Tourer » Fri Feb 18, 2011 10:31 am

ian.miller wrote: Try swimming to catch a wind driven empty boat.
Indeed, once you are separated from your boat, chances of survival decrease rapidly, pointless to swim after a wind driven empty boat. Without strobe light evn in near calm conditions you are almost invisible.

As a beginner on an "introduction week" I capsized near Caldey Island, as a reflex got hold of the paddle on a leach, otherwise would have drifted away rapidly in Bft 5 and single figure temp water.. Getting help and back in quickly I had grade I hypothermia and decided to leave the slow group behind, speed and getting warm again rather than back paddling in following seas was the essence for me in that situation.

On a blowy day ~ Bft 6 I paddled with a friend who doesn't like hats, soon he shivered as we got splashed. Hardly anyone knows that the head a heat vent accounting for ~ 20 % heat loss alone, probably more when wet.

Whether inflating and deflating a life jacket is better than a b.aid for swimming is something I havn't thought of, but then you don't have kit on you, like VHF, mini-flares... I can swim a few hundred meters with b.aid, dry suit but progress is slow and exhausting, did it only once in a calm bay, training self rescue. In salt water and with a dry suit you hardly need any flotation at all.

It is possible to operate a VHF one handed while floating holding on to the boat, did that on a lifeboat rescue training day. In calm warm conditions near Calshot it took them more than half an hour to get a large group out, finally they called out a RIB to help with that, since you can't get out people from the water from a large boat.

A Yachtie then took a shortcut right through a group of floating kayakers, not listening to VHF anyway, if he had one at all..

German life boats have a small boat piggy back to launch from a ramp for that reason, but that would be another thread, such as PLB, VHF/DSC/GPS and such like.

http://www.dgzrs.de/index.php?id=708

I suggest all clubs do a once yearly or so life boat rescue day and generally check mutually for kit, as you do in mountaineering or military patrols.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Owen » Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:59 am

Buoyancy aids v life jackets.

There's an interesting article in Ocean Paddler magazine issue 12, it's a review of the Kokatat sea02 buoyancy aid. The reviewer relates his experiance of spending time in the RNLI sea survival pool in Dorset. He was wearing a dry suit and BA (70N) He described the experiance as "a real eye opener".

Developemnt of the concept of hybrid vests, with a normal BA fitted with some sort of inflatable collar, seems to have gone very quite. A pitty as they seemed to tick lots of boxes.

Another problem with BA's it the tendancy to ride up, any ideas as to how you can fit leg loops whilst wearing a spraydeck?

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by MikeB » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:26 pm

Tourer wrote:As a beginner on an "introduction week" I capsized near Caldey Island, as a reflex got hold of the paddle on a leach, (sic)
With apologies for going slightly off-topic and/or banging my training drum yet again, this scenario is an excellent reason why new paddlers should be properly trained. One of the things which is banged into you on a BCU course is the crucial need to hang onto the boat and the paddle on capsize and exit.

Mike.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Tourer » Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:50 pm

Owen wrote:Buoyancy aids v life jackets.
.... The reviewer relates his experiance of spending time in the RNLI sea survival pool in Dorset. He was wearing a dry suit and BA (70N) He described the experiance as "a real eye opener". Another problem with BA's it the tendancy to ride up, any ideas as to how you can fit leg loops whilst wearing a spraydeck?
Not in my experience, if B.A.'s (I mean that red solid foam thing with pockets and side straps) are fitted correctly in the first instance, something you learn e.g. as a level 1 coach to look at with newbies.

I mentioned this near miss incident of mine near Caldey Island and the 25 m ice swim because unless people are in the cold and wet stuff it is hard to believe how quickly the cold paralyses, so VHF/DSC/PLB is all but useless since even if rescue forces can respond immediately (often no VHF reception on a rocky coastline) people are dead or nearly by the time they can get to the scene.

So I suggest that anyone with a neoprene long John , naked feet in neo shoes and kayak jacket in a single figure water temperature environment should demonstrate say 10 minutes in the wet stuff, or leaders ask everyone to hop in perhaps ;-), see how long they last ? Hmmh, not serious - what is a good way to provide "eye openers" - FSRT as part of 3 star paddling
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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Feb 18, 2011 6:53 pm

I always carry a large orange survival bag in my BA pocket. When in the water, the bag can be inflated by the wind, pulled over my head and held together under my feet. It keeps spray off me and is very visible. The air lasts about 15 to 20 min before needing to be refilled.

Chris

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Ian_Montrose » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:01 pm

Chris Bolton wrote:I always carry a large orange survival bag in my BA pocket. When in the water, the bag can be inflated by the wind, pulled over my head and held together under my feet. It keeps spray off me and is very visible. The air lasts about 15 to 20 min before needing to be refilled.

Chris

Assuming you've tested it, does the bag fill with water to any significant extent or does it maintain a decent air pocket (like an empty glass placed open end first into a sink kind of thing?) I'm guessing it does hence the 15-20 minutes breathing claim, in which case it must be offering some reasonable thermal protection. An interesting concept with potential for improvement if the basic premise is sound.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:14 pm

Ian, I have indeed tested it, and it worked well - the air pocket remained until I decided the air was getting stale. But it's important the bag is in good condition and doesn't have any holes - they do tend to form holes at the corner folds.

Chris

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Owen » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:15 pm

Tourer wrote:
Owen wrote:Buoyancy aids v life jackets.
.... The reviewer relates his experiance of spending time in the RNLI sea survival pool in Dorset. He was wearing a dry suit and BA (70N) He described the experiance as "a real eye opener". Another problem with BA's it the tendancy to ride up, any ideas as to how you can fit leg loops whilst wearing a spraydeck?
Not in my experience, if B.A.'s (I mean that red solid foam thing with pockets and side straps) are fitted correctly in the first instance, something you learn e.g. as a level 1 coach to look at with newbies.

?
Yes, I do know how to put on a BA. I have been sea kayak for twenty years and I am also a coach. But, I've yet to find any BA that doesn't ride up after you've been in the water for more than a few minutes.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Owen » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:32 pm

Tourer wrote: I mentioned this near miss incident of mine near Caldey Island and the 25 m ice swim because unless people are in the cold and wet stuff it is hard to believe how quickly the cold paralyses, so VHF/DSC/PLB is all but useless since even if rescue forces can respond immediately (often no VHF reception on a rocky coastline) people are dead or nearly by the time they can get to the scene.

So I suggest that anyone with a neoprene long John , naked feet in neo shoes and kayak jacket in a single figure water temperature environment should demonstrate say 10 minutes in the wet stuff, or leaders ask everyone to hop in perhaps ;-), see how long they last ? Hmmh, not serious - what is a good way to provide "eye openers" - FSRT as part of 3 star paddling
?
I did hear of one coach who did just that on a FSRT. He had people standing up to their necks in Berwick lagoon, in winter, so that they could experiance hypothermia! They weren't impressed.

Many years ago as part of a military training course I was dropped into the English Channel and left for about half an hour. We had to try and let off various flares, red para type weren't too bad, smoke were quite hard with cold hands and there was no chance with mini flares. Couldn't even hold the pen thing let alone screw a cartridge in. We were wearing fibre pile teddy suits under combats under the old style military dry suits made of ventile.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by tg » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:37 pm

Owen wrote:
Yes, I do know how to put on a BA. I have been sea kayak for twenty years and I am also a coach. But, I've yet to find any BA that doesn't ride up after you've been in the water for more than a few minutes.
I'll second that. I'm a little 'portly' in the mid riff and although I can secure a (my) BA well enough it will start to ride up after a while. My lifejacket came with a crotch harness for a reason. Something that pre-occupies me is the need for a sling that I could hook up to the BA in the water. I am not a coach BTW.

Tim
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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Owen » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:37 pm

Chris Bolton wrote:I always carry a large orange survival bag in my BA pocket. When in the water, the bag can be inflated by the wind, pulled over my head and held together under my feet. It keeps spray off me and is very visible. The air lasts about 15 to 20 min before needing to be refilled.

Chris
I've read of getting into the bag feet first and pulling it up, so that just your face is sticking out of the top and gathering up the loose plastic so its tight to your neck. Don't know if this would be better than putting it over your head or not.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by tg » Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:42 pm

Neoprene hood plus lifejacket spray hood seem like good ideas too. Anyone know if a lifejacket hood is compatible with a BA?

Tim
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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by John N » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:13 am

One thing that gets me wound up at our club is that members wearing club equipment will rarely bother with loosening of the shoulder straps before fitting the BA. If it starts of in the wrong position it's always going to ride up. KOKATAT kindly sent me some A2 sized posters on 'how to fit a BA' a few years back and they still in noticeable locations in the club, but after the 1* course few bother unless I notice it and mention it to them. Gives them somewhere to rest thier chin.
With my limited experience I've found zipped front BA's don't seem to ride up as much over head versions. Could some of this 'riding up' be due to ever increasing waistlines?

Some years ago I watched on You Tube a US Coastguard short on Hypothermia. In it they took a no. of paddlers out into the bay (suitable dressed) and got them into the water. It took a worryingly short time before you became to cold to operate a VHF properly. I've not tried for a while but have been unable to re-locate it for some time. Anyone else seen it?

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Ian_Montrose » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:22 am

John N wrote:Some years ago I watched on You Tube a US Coastguard short on Hypothermia. In it they took a no. of paddlers out into the bay (suitable dressed) and got them into the water. It took a worryingly short time before you became to cold to operate a VHF properly. I've not tried for a while but have been unable to re-locate it for some time. Anyone else seen it?

This video? - http://vimeo.com/4534662

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Ian_Montrose » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:52 am

Owen wrote:
Chris Bolton wrote:I always carry a large orange survival bag in my BA pocket. When in the water, the bag can be inflated by the wind, pulled over my head and held together under my feet. It keeps spray off me and is very visible. The air lasts about 15 to 20 min before needing to be refilled.

Chris
I've read of getting into the bag feet first and pulling it up, so that just your face is sticking out of the top and gathering up the loose plastic so its tight to your neck. Don't know if this would be better than putting it over your head or not.
I would guess having it over your head provides a major benefit in rough water as it will protect your airways from splash and spray. I'm interested in how one keeps the bottom of the bag in place near the feet. I assume it entails having your hands and forearms submerged which will impact your manual dexterity over time. Perhaps straps on the bottom of the bag would allow you to use a stirrup technique and keep hands out of the cold water.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by John N » Sat Feb 19, 2011 10:03 am

I'm think that's the one but I also think I saw a shortened version of it. At least I know now why I couldn't find it on You Tube.
Thanks Ian.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Tourer » Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:19 am

I did hear of one coach who did just that on a FSRT. He had people standing up to their necks in Berwick lagoon, in winter, so that they could experiance hypothermia! They weren't impressed.
I bet they had a valuable possibly life saving experience, whether they liked their coach ? "Sometimes it is not nice to too be nice".

When I got into kayaking in middle age I took my nice new neoprene stuff to the Dancing Ledge rock swimming pool and tested how long I'd last - a while at rest but as I started to swim cold water rushed through.. Later I tried it in the sea at ~ 12 C and found that inappropriate to say the least. Then I bought a dry suit with socks.

Neo in winter is dangerous nonsense !

Always test your kit in real life !

Mini flares with that launch pin are a flawed concept, in the UK nothing else was/is legal. In Germany the NICO revolving mini flare system is legal.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by TechnoEngineer » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:31 pm

Rainer do you think it's worth you doing a Monday evening lecture on this?
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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Chris Bolton » Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:41 pm

Ian_Montrose wrote:I'm interested in how one keeps the bottom of the bag in place near the feet. I assume it entails having your hands and forearms submerged which will impact your manual dexterity over time.
It's been a long time since I tried it but I think I was able to tuck the bottom of the bag round my feet and up between my knees - it probably still required a hand to hold it, which would have been in the water, although I don't remember it being a problem. I don't think the water was particularly cold; it was in Jersey and sometime in the summer. The bag gives you buoyancy, so you can bring your knees up. I'll have to practice it again sometime. It was Nigel Foster who showed me the idea.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Tourer » Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:51 pm

Many years ago as part of a military training course I was dropped into the English Channel and left for about half an hour. We had to try and let off various flares, red para type weren't too bad, smoke were quite hard with cold hands and there was no chance with mini flares. Couldn't even hold the pen thing let alone screw a cartridge in. We were wearing fibre pile teddy suits under combats under the old style military dry suits made of ventile.[/quote]

http://www.kanu.de/nuke/downloads/Gefah ... ehlung.pdf

This is an article by Prof. Udo Beier, sea secretary of the German canoe union DKV, there are links to English language sites at the end.

I think without regular training meaning being thrown in the cold and wet stuff, or call it FSRT and get a nice piece of paper for that - perhaps a shiny badge ? ;-))) -, or just do it informally with mates is the way to prevent accidents.

Over the years my guardian angel was fast enough to catch up with me, the most severe and life threatening accident so far was falling from a loft ladder inside the house.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by 7fathoms » Sat Feb 19, 2011 6:36 pm

Chris Bolton wrote:I always carry a large orange survival bag in my BA pocket. When in the water, the bag can be inflated by the wind, pulled over my head and held together under my feet. It keeps spray off me and is very visible. The air lasts about 15 to 20 min before needing to be refilled.Chris
I think there might be a problem with this Chris, since if you are sheltering inside your orange survival bag how will you see any rescue craft and how will rescuers see you? You will just look like a floating orange plastic rubbish sack, not a person in need of rescue. You might well keep the wind and spray off you but could miss the boat, literally.
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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Chris Bolton » Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:10 pm

The inflated survival bag, from the outside, looks very much like the kind of inflatable buoy used to mark the course for sailing races. It's pretty visible, and much more visible than a swimmer, but I was rather assuming that I was able to use VHF to talk to rescuers and could tell them what to look for. If I wasn't able to do that, having summoned help by some other means, I'd have to listen for approaching engines and them remove the bag to wave it at them.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Tourer » Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:40 pm

Excellent stuff for club evenings, though the take home message is useing life jackets, apart from some mortality statistics and the fact that the initial panic can be a killer or take valuable time. You have about 10 minutes of meaningful movement (at most I think), many fatal accidents happen near the shore.

I think "Cold water boot camps" , FSRT for all or so are a way forward. Seriously 80 £ for the BCU and a day in the water - I did that once.

http://www.seekajak.ch/html/newsletter_24.html .... "Tödliche Kenterung. Chronik einer vorhersehbaren Tragödie"

This is a report of two experienced competetive paddlers who took off for a training session of 30 km on an icy lake in Sweden (ice floes, 2 degrees water), the older died after a capsize.

Is anyone aware of accident statistics and root cause analysis in water sports ?

From my mountain experience I can say that some people tend to panic in unforeseen circumstances, making matters worse, others don't - but who behaves how is what you will see only when you're there. Up to a degree this can be trained. I recently saw someone (not a paddler) get scared in a wave machine swimming pool - it all depends on personality and experience.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by tg » Sat Feb 19, 2011 8:01 pm

I don't know if anybody has seen anything this guy has done.

http://english.sina.com/world/p/2008/1210/203803.html

I think there is a lot to be said for preparedness and acclimatisation. So maybe wet exit and or roll practise everytime you go out. When I was a keen WW paddler I'd spend 5 minutes with the cold bath tap running over the back of my neck in the mornings. Brr!. I figured it helped with the initial shock of going over, and I believe it worked. We spend a lot of our time and effort in staying upright that the initial shock, which I think is important, is more than it need be. I see plenty of paddlers that don't want to capsize, why?

Tim
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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Tourer » Sat Feb 19, 2011 9:12 pm

tg wrote:I don't know if anybody has seen anything this guy has done.

http://english.sina.com/world/p/2008/12 ... html[quote]
Unbelievable, even so this man is made of flesh and blood. He certainly doesn't have an initial shock problem !
... We spend a lot of our time and effort in staying upright that the initial shock, which I think is important, is more than it need be. I see plenty of paddlers that don't want to capsize, why? Tim[/quote]

Fear/panic, simply fear, overcoming that "head up early" roll killing reflex triggered by fear/stress I managed to get rolling to some degree. Rarely did people on club trips other than PDCC want to get wet, even though it was a warm calm day.

I suppose there must be some incentive for that, some bravery or navy badge in silver or gold perhaps ?

Whatever skill one has - it doesn't last a life time but needs constant updating.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Steen Johansen » Sun Feb 20, 2011 6:24 pm

Tourer wrote:What about office workers taking car or tube to work who decide to get into paddling in middle age, via a centre/tour organiser perhaps ?
We manage nicely, thank you. I started when I was 49. Fortunately I started taking lessons in the winter and have become accustomed to cold water.
Owen wrote:I have been sea kayak for twenty years and I am also a coach. But, I've yet to find any BA that doesn't ride up after you've been in the water for more than a few minutes.
I started sea kayaking 3 years ago. I do not make rescue drills often enough, but often enough to be comfortable in my BAs, Palm Kaikoura and Palm Symbiant Tour (yes I know it is a girlie PFD but it fits me so well).
tg wrote:When I was a keen WW paddler I'd spend 5 minutes with the cold bath tap running over the back of my neck in the mornings. Brr!.
Sounds more like an older woman I know. I will recommend sea kayakers starting every morning like i do with a cold shower - not a little finger, not the neck but your entire body. Some of our club members are winter swimmers. I am sure it is good for them - but I am too much of a sissy for that. WW paddlers are probably more Warm Water paddler so it probably does not matter so much for them.

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by elvistheking » Mon Feb 21, 2011 9:32 pm

Tourer wrote:
When I got into kayaking in middle age I took my nice new neoprene stuff to the Dancing Ledge rock swimming pool and tested how long I'd last - a while at rest but as I started to swim cold water rushed through.. Later I tried it in the sea at ~ 12 C and found that inappropriate to say the least. Then I bought a dry suit with socks.

Neo in winter is dangerous nonsense !
Interesting, I've done a hours dive in a full length 5mm wetsuit in 12C (not too deep 20m or so - neoprene compresses with depth so offers less thermal protection) but (big but) it's a semi dry which has drysuit like (neoprene) seals at the ankles and wrists to prevent the flushing you were experiencing (with these types of wetsuit you want to avoid peeing in them as it dosn't get out....), I was cold but not OMG I can't operate cold (you see nutters even at this time of year in inland dive sites when it's 4 degrees in semi-dry wetsuits as well - usually 5mm full length + 5mm shorty),I'm guessing that they are probably cut all wrong (or is 5mm far too thick) but do the wetsuits kayakers use normally have these seals, perhaps that is the secret?

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Re: Hypothermia revisited

Post by Tourer » Mon Feb 21, 2011 11:42 pm

elvistheking wrote:
Tourer wrote:
When I got into kayaking in middle age I took my nice new neoprene stuff to the Dancing Ledge rock swimming pool and tested how long I'd last - a while at rest but as I started to swim cold water rushed through.. Later I tried it in the sea at ~ 12 C and found that inappropriate to say the least. Then I bought a dry suit with socks.

Neo in winter is dangerous nonsense !
Kayaking neoprene and divers gear is different, at different price tags and different needs.

To the reader of these lines I say test your gear in controlled conditions such as shallow bay these days and don't rely on what some guy in the shop tells you for whom kayaking means WW in the summer.

Where I live these days we have -5 to -9 at night and I keep cycling on icy cycle lanes with spike tyres but I stay off the water for now.

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