In the last issue of Canoe Magazine there was an informative article on wilderness first-aid. Reading it prompted me to review the contents of my own kit. While updating its contents for the coming season, a few questions came to mind. In search of the answers I reviewed the chapter on such things in the "Complete Wilderness Paddler". This is a wonderful book I have referred to in the past authored by Dr. John Rugge and James West Davidson. My concerns centered around some very minor supply issues which were quickly answered. However, once I began reading the chapter, I felt compelled to finish it. I read along over the same old stuff sort of have paying attention when the discussion stumbled into the topic of drowning. WOW!! Where did this come from. I have been through this book at least a dozen times and honestly do not remember this part. Have you ever hear that death by drowning is one of the more pleasant ways to go?? I have, although I never really gave it much thought as I couldn't comprehend how somebody could come to this conclusion. I never really give much thought to drowning when I am paddling either. Wait a minute, let me clarify this statement. Obviously if you spend time on or around water there is potential for a mishap. I realize this and accept it. I do not however dwell on it or let it deter what I am comfortable doing. I know my abilities, take proper precautions, and use my head (common sense, where have we heard this before). It is very similar to the frame of mind you have every day when you (hopefully) buckle up in your car before heading to work.

Back to drowning. I guess it has been determined that drowning can be a euphoric form of death. You must however experience what is known as a dry drowning. This is where you somehow prevent water from entering your lungs. Apparently you lapse into a form of oxygen debt, lose consciousness, and enter a euphoric state while your soul journeys to its final destination. I can't quite picture this, and would prefer not to experience it either, although it is supposed to be better than a wet drowning. This is when you gulp down large volumes of water which then enters your blood stream causing all kinds of nasty things to happen.

swollen river

Where is he going with this topic you ask. I just read an article in the paper about an 80-year-old man who recently drowned when his canoe over turned in a cold, swollen river down in the southern part of the state. Guess what, he wasn't wearing a life jacket. Neither was his daughter, however, she was able to grab onto one which kept here buoyant while she swam to shore. Folks it is that time of year again. The drowning mentioned above is only the first of many that will occur. It is the same thing every year. Make sure the next one isn't you. The weather is beginning to warm up, spring fever is in the air. People are anxious to get outside and enjoy life. Paddlers are anxious to get the dust off the canoe and experience the excitement of white water. The rivers are swollen and inviting you to come and paddle. The water is cold, moving fast and at its most dangerous state. It has no sympathy for lack of experience or stupidity. Spring is here. Get outside, enjoy the fresh air, just don't leave your common sense in the basement with the dust. Happy Paddling!

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