Today’s Safety topic is about Rowing and Weather.
Being near or in water during a thunder and lightning storm is not a good thing. I will spare you any of the gory statistics on deaths due to lightning strikes as I think most people know that it is not good to expose yourself to the opportunity of being struck by lightning. Simply do not row if you hear thunder or see lightning. And you should wait 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder before entering the water.
Get in the habit of checking the weather prior to any row. The New Hope Weather link is: http://www.weather.com/outlook/travel/businesstraveler/local/18938 .
If there is the possibility of a storm coming through, then be on the look out for the storms either by sight of clouds or sound of the thunder or change in temperature, humidity or wind. If it appears safe to row but there is a possibility of storms, then stay near the landing. You may want to judge how far you should row by knowing if you could get back to the landing and out of the boat in 5 minutes. For most experienced, strong team boats that would mean not rowing but a couple hundred meters above the free bridge.
If by chance you are far from the landing and a storm comes in, row to the nearest shore, get out of the boat and get a way from the water and to shelter if you can. Just ground the boat on shore if you can and don’t worry about damage–we love you more then our boats. Or leave the boat in the water. If there is not an enclosed safe shelter near, just get away from the river and tall trees. You should squat low but minimize contact with ground and keep both feet together.
If you are at the site and do not have a car to get to, then go in the rest room(s). Seriously, you could be struck standing just next to a building. Being inside an enclosed building is the safest place to be during a storm.
Below is a link to a NOAA information page on lightning safety.
Enough of all the scary stuff….
As we are in the midst of summer, I will talk about heat first. If you row on a hot day, wear lightweight clothes, drink plenty of fluids and bring the fluids with you in the boat. Water is good but you may consider drinking a sports drink that adds carbohydrates and electrolytes to the water. I personally use Cytomax which can be bought on the internet or at health food stores. Stella Volpe, our Resident Nutrition Expert, would most likely promote Gatorade which can be purchased at any grocery store and would be quite happy to speak to you about the value of any of these type of drinks .
Along these lines you should heed bad ozone days. I would suggest if you row on these days that you keep the effort on the lower end.
I know it is hard to imagine in August, but we do have limits that we row due to cold weather or cold water. Because we do not have a launch out with us while we are always rowing to rescue any rowers that may end up in the river, we do not row in low air or water temperatures. The river water temperature can be found on the NOAA Gauge which is noted as “gage” and linked on the Swan Creek Rowing site in the upper right in hand corner. The link is also below.
The site quotes the temperature in Celsius and not in Fahrenheit so I’ve noted the club limits in both below.
Do not Row if Water Temp is < 50 degrees F (10 degrees C) on NOAA Gauge
Do not Row if Air Temp is < 40 degrees F (4 degrees C)
There will also be a Blue Flag posted over the desk to note Cold Water of < 60 degrees F (15 degrees C) which means No Novice may row by themselves.
If you do row in cooler weather, you should dress appropriately in non cotton clothing. Long sleeve shirts and vests are a good to keep your core warm. If you need cool weather rowing-wear, Regatta Sports or JL Rowing have many snazzy cool weather attire to purchase and most of the vendors peddle their clothes at the big regattas.
Fog season is coming upon us. You will probably come down to row on what seems to be a sunny day only to find the river soaked in fog. The rule is simple–don’t row if you can’t see the free bridge from the launch area. There are just too many risks of what you can’t see and who may not be able to see you to be rowing. Generally the fog will clear as the sun rises and you will be able to go out. If you do go out and the fog rolls in, simply slowly come in.
Not that darkness is a “weather condition” but it is something to consider as the days are sadly getting shorter. To keep it simple and easy to remember, starting in September, if you row after 5 pm, use a bow light on your boat. There is a bin of bow lights in the shed. And use your best judgment to get off of the river at twilight.
I was hoping to keep it short and sweet with this note but it looking like that is impossible for me to do.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know. See you on the river!
SCRC Safety Committee