Learning To Dress for Immersion—The Hard Way

Salty Jefferson warns, “Don’t rely on denim!”

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As a United Stated Coast Guard nonprofit grant recipient, the Water Sports Sports Foundation produces paddling safety outreach materials and distributes them through boating and paddling media providers.

Paddlesports currently has an inordinately high rate of accidents and deaths that for the past five years has been increasing, while power boating stats have been decreasing during the same period.

The goal is to create heightened public awareness of safer paddling making paddlesports safer and to ultimately reduce the total number of paddlesports-related deaths annually.

Salty Jefferson talks about dressing for immersion
Image: Water Sports Foundation/YouTube

Speaker 1: What a beautiful lake! You know what else is beautiful?

Speaker 2: What?

Speaker 1: These new jean shorts. I can’t wait to go paddling in them tomorrow!

Speaker 2: They do look stretchy.

Salty Jefferson: I learned that lesson the hard way.

Speaker 2: Paddling legend, Salty Jefferson?

Salty Jefferson: Back in my day, my buddy Dan and I lived in denim. From the pool hall, to the dance floor, to our greatest paddling adventures. One spring day, denim almost did us in. We were paddling a stretch of river we had never been on before, when we suddenly hear a rumble in the distance. Before we knew it we were over the waterfall. I was wearing neoprene underneath my denim. Dan…was not. He died of hyPOTH-ermia that day.

Speaker 2: Hypothermia?

Salty Jefferson: Point is: when you’re on the water dress to be in the water.

Dress For Immersion, Not Air Temperature
  • Your body loses heat much faster when immersed in cold water than it does when dry.
  • Avoid cotton clothing like t-shirts and jeans; they retain water and accelerate cooling when wet. Synthetic fabrics, or wool, are generally a better choice. If the water is very cold (60° fahrenheit or less), you should wear a wetsuit or drysuit.


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