Ice and cold water are dangerous. Obviously it is unwise to try to use a small boat, canoe or kayak as an ice breaker. A more common problem is ice on the boat ramp, which makes launching and picking up the boat hazardous to impossible.
Kayaks, canoes and other small boats so popular these days are especially risky. Getting wet, especially falling in the water can be fatal. The shock of sudden immersion can lead to cold water shock, which can induce a heart attack. Hypothermia can quickly cause exhaustion to the point of near paralysis, making escape from the water difficult to impossible. So beside wearing appropriate clothing — a dry suit or wet suit is preferable — a floatation vest with a whistle should be worn before launching, and one should not venture onto the water without another person in another boat that stays within visual and shouting distance.
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