Paddle Alert warns water lovers to be careful

Paddle Alert warns water lovers to be careful
Source: NBC12

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - While the weather is comfortable, the water temperature is not so much. The National Weather Service, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, has issued a "Paddle Alert" for Virginia.

A Paddle Alert means the cold water can be dangerous, and you can be in danger of hypothermia in just a few minutes if you don't take extra precautions.

"You just have to use appropriate caution," says Matt Perry with Riverside Outfitters.

They're getting ready for the opening weekend, with rafting trips ready to go. Their guides know to be extra cautious right now.

"The general rule of thumb is when the combined air temperature and water temperature is less than somewhere between 130 and 140 degrees, you should have auxiliary insulation," said Perry.

Customers will be told to layer up.

"Sometimes up until May, all of our customers will wear wetsuits as an insulation layer, and we also have splash jackets that we put on top of that," said Perry.

No layers can have a negative affect on your body.

"Your body either goes into shock, or your limbs aren't working like you would like them to. You can't swim effectively," said Perry.

Other tips: wear a life jacket, make sure your raft or kayak is in good condition and make sure somebody knows where you are going.

The National Weather Service in Wakefield, VA says the Paddle Alert ends Thursday, but river experts say it's still good to be cautious. River levels will be very high going into April.

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