BURLINGTON, Vt. -
It's been a long winter and we're all anxious to enjoy our favorite summer time activities like kayaking and canoeing, but keep in mind the water in Lake Champlain is still a dangerous 38 degrees. It's best to wait until the water is warmer, but if you do go out anyway, you should be wearing a wet suit and at the very least, be wearing a personal floatation device. Without a life jacket, you can only survive for around 10 minutes in cold water. With a life jacket, you could survive for over an hour before hypothermia sets in. Here's what happens.
Stage 1 Cold Shock
When you first enter cold water, the shock can lead to a loss of breathing control, and puts increases stress on your heart.
Stage 2 Physical Incapacatation
Long before you suffer from hypothermia, you will lose the ability to move your arms and legs, possibly within 10 minutes. You will lose the ability to use your hands first. It does not matter if you are a strong swimmer or not, without a PFD, this puts you at high risk of drowning.
Stage 3 Hypothermia
Generally, after about an hour, depending on body type and water temperature, your core body temperature drops below 95 degrees. Mental ability suffers, eventually losing consciousness and failure of heart and respiratory systems.
Stay safe, and respect the colder water temperatures of the season.