DNR says water still too cold for paddling

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Everyone will soon be getting the kayaks out of the garage. (Radio Iowa photo)

We’ve had some warmer days recently in the state — but the Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator says we aren’t to the free paddling days of summer just yet.

Todd Robertson says you should wait a bit before getting out the kayak or canoe. “The water is still really cool. We haven’t had enough consistently warm days in a row enough to heat that water up to a safe paddling level,” Robertson says.

He says a safe level means you aren’t in danger by simply going into the water. “If you don’t have the right gear on, the right clothing on and you hit that cold water, hypothermia can sit in really quickly. And cold water shock can also be a problem. So we need to give it a little bit more time before you get out there and your shorts and your T-shirts and just having summer fun,” he says.

Robertson says the water will eventually be ready for a trip. “I think once we get past this next round of cooler weather and rain that things should start to heat up a little bit and hopefully, people can get out on the water soon. But right now it’s it’s not super safe as far as water temperature,” according to Robertson.

He says now is a good time to check the buckles and zippers and check for holes in life jackets. Many people are buying plastic molded kayaks as they are relatively inexpensive. Robertson says they should be checked out too. “After you know, a couple of years, you really want to start checking those because they can wear down pretty easily. But those are actually fairly durable kayaks and they can take a pounding for a little while,” Robertson says. “But no matter what your boat, what kind of material it is, you always got to keep an eye on it. So doing those yearly checks is really important. And before you get into the water anytime it’s always good to do a once over.”

When the water does warm up, he says you should wear your life jacket. “Wear that life jacket no matter what the temperature is, no matter what skill level you’ve got. Our favorite saying around our paddling community is you are always just in between a swim. If you haven’t dumped your boat now, at some point it’s gonna happen,” he says. “So you want to be ready for it and the best way to be ready for it is to wear your life jacket.”

And Robertson says you should file a float plan before heading out so friends and family know where you are supposed to be if something should happen.

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