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Cold Weather Rules

Hypothermia is a very dangerous and deadly condition.  We encourage ALL members to use extreme caution when on the water in cold weather conditions. The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation will follow the Cold Weather Guidelines established by FISA and US Rowing.


When water temperature drops below 50 degrees and/or air temperature drops below 40 degrees, ALL rowers and paddlers must be under the direct supervision of a staff member and must stay within sight distance (500 meters) of the safety launch.  All single rowers and kayakers will be required to carry a certified inflatable or non-inflatable PFD. Questions? Contact Megan Duffy by email for more information about cold weather rules and policies.


OKCBF will provide certified inflatable and non-inflatable PFD’s to all single’s rowers wishing to row under the Cold Weather Policy.  They will be available on a first come, first serve basis.


All rowing shells, kayaks, dragon boats, and safety launches must have a light visible from the bow and stern while on the water in low-light conditions.  A bright red/green light should be mounted on the bow and white light on the stern.  In the event a rower or paddler cannot attach a white light to the stern a flashing red light can be worn.


Hypothermia occurs when the whole of the body has been chilled to a much lower than normal temperature.  Normal body temperature is 37° C (98.6° F). Temperatures falling below this should be avoided at all costs.

“Dress to beat the cold” – Layers of clothing are more effective than one warm garment. The outer layer should be wind and waterproof.  Wet and dry suits are best suited for cold water conditions.

Do not take or give alcohol in cold conditions. Alcohol accelerates heat loss as well as impairing judgment.

Everyone must be aware of the risks of exposure to cold. Exposed arms, legs and head heighten the risk.  If a person has fallen into cold water, their body will lose heat rapidly. To reduce heat loss, the person should keep his clothes on except for heavy coats or boots which may drag the person down. Sudden immersion in cold water can have a shock effect that can disrupt normal breathing, reducing even a proficient swimmer to incompetence. Confusion and an inability to respond to simple instructions will become evident.  When hypothermia is suspected; try to prevent further loss of body heat and re-warm the affected victim.  Send for help. Hypothermia is a medical emergency whether the patient is conscious or unconscious.  If conscious the victim should be actively re-warmed under careful observation.  If unconscious the victim must get medical aid as soon as possible.


The following are the most usual symptoms and signs, but all may not be present:

  • Unexpected and unreasonable behavior possibly accompanied by complaints of coldness and tiredness.
  • Physical and mental lethargy with failure to understand a question or orders.
  • Slurring of speech.
  • Violent outburst of unexpected energy and violent language, becoming uncooperative.
  • Failure of, or abnormality in, vision.
  • Twitching.
  • Lack of control of limbs, unsteadiness and complaining of numbness and cramp.
  • General shock with pallor and blueness of lips and nails.
  • Slow weak pulse, wheezing and coughing.

A very dangerous situation is still present when a person who has been in the water for some time is taken out of the water. Further heat loss must be prevented. The victim should be protected against wind and rain if possible. Re-warming can be carried out by:

  • Wrapping the victim in a thermal/exposure blanket. (Available in ALL OKCBF launches)
  • Others placing their warm bodies against the victim.
  • Giving hot drinks (if conscious), but not alcohol.

Prevention Is Always the Best Policy