Cold Water Paddling

With ice going off of some lakes earlier than normal people are excited to get out paddling on the open water.  While the water may look inviting it’s very cold so extra care should be taken if you’re heading out. It’s a good idea to make sure it’s a calm day, paddle with two watercraft, let someone know where you’re going, wear a life preserver and be careful!

Kayaker pulled from chilly Lake Michigan off Kenosha shore

  • The Coast Guard from Station Kenosha rescues a kayaker from Lake Michigan around 6 p.m. Saturday after he has capsized and struggled to get back in his craft. ( KENOSHA NEWS PHOTO BY BRIAN PASSINO )A kayaker was pulled from chilly Lake Michigan Saturday afternoon after capsizing about 200 yards offshore from the Southport Park, 7501 Second Ave.

    Kenosha Fire Department Battalion Chief Wes Bernhardt said firefighters were called at 5:43 p.m. by someone in the park who had noticed the kayaker struggling to get back in his craft.

    Upon arrival, firefighters spied the kayaker. “He was too far from shore for us to do anything,” Bernhardt said.

    The U.S. Coast Guard was alerted at 5:50 p.m., according to Petty Officer Andrew Armas, and launched its small rescue boat with four crew members from Station Kenosha.

    The boat arrived on scene at 6:04 p.m., Armas said. “He was hanging on to his kayak, still floating, still moving,” Armas said.

    The Coast Guard crew had the man out of the 50-degree water within a minute, Armas said.

    “He was breathing, just a little cold,” he said. “In 50-degree water, hypothermia sets in pretty quickly. He was shivering when we brought him on board.”

    Southwest winds at 21 knots were whipping up 4-foot waves, according to Armas and Bernhardt, but Armas described the rescue as routine.

    The kayaker was taken back to the Kenosha station, where Kenosha paramedics were waiting to take him to a hospital.

    “He was conscious and alert, cold, and visibly hypothermic,” Bernhardt said.

    Bernhardt estimated the man, said to be in his 30s, was probably in the water for about 15 minutes.

    But he did a lot of things right that Armas said helped him immensely.

    “He was wearing a life jacket and a wetsuit, which is awesome — we love that. If he didn’t have a life jacket, he probably wouldn’t have been able to stay with the kayak.

    “Even though he was tethered to the kayak, he was struggling to hang on. Without those safety measure, it would have been a different outcome.”

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