Rowing in very cold conditions

Just a reminder of a few things to consider when deciding whether to row during this very cold snap.

  • Ice is an important
    indicator of extreme cold. It is a risk on land, – slipping
    and dropping the boat, and on the water – floating sheets of ice will damage boats.
  • Cold water immersion is a high risk, particularly for juniors and
    masters.  All clubs should read the RowSafe guidance (Section 1.8) and be aware of the effects
    of cold shock and hypothermia.  In cold weather you need to be absolutely
    certain you have assessed all the risks and you can react effectively to an incident.  The most important thing is to reduce
    the likelihood of a capsize.  You could restrict outings to more stable
    boats, experienced crews and increase the level of launch supervision that will help prevent incidents and also alert rescue services
    immediately.

All crews need to be reminded to wear appropriate clothing, use suitable equipment and the imperative of
getting out of the water as quickly as possible in the event of a capsize.  You may
need to carry more safety equipment in the boat/launch and you will
definitely need an enhanced emergency plan to identify when an incident has
happened and recover people as quickly as possible.  The risk
assessment and recovery plan will need to be specific for your location but in
very cold weather, there should be a much higher
priority given to assessment, preparation and communication. 

Clive Killick

National Water Safety Adviser

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