It’s that time of year again.
With another easterly bringing the heat straight from the interior and ripping through Perth, more and more people join the mass migration to the nearest body of water.

Ironically as we’re suffering through another heat wave, the other side of the globe is bunking down and preparing for a cold winter.
Outside magazine recently posted an article on the dangers of watery winter escapes, urging people to be extra cautious and aware of the inherent dangers the cold brings.
As Perth rolls into the hottest months of the year, it can become very easy to drop our guard and start relaxing. After all, it’s only hot weather right? Bring out the beers!

To avoid sounding like your dearest mother, fussing over you before you go outside try and read this with my best river rat voice in your head.
After all, we have to have each others backs.
Just like the next person, every morning I peel myself out of bed and roll into an un air-conditioned car to drive myself into a poorly air conditioned warehouse I dream of packing my things and running back to a warm whitewater paradise.
Then I painfully bring myself back to reality and realise that warm weather escapades are fraught with their own set of hidden risks. From mild sun tan all the way to full blown heat stroke. The benefit is they are 100% preventable, but it doesn’t take long for a heat illness to knock you on your back.
In the name of aiding a fellow water rat in their aquatic endeavours, following is my check list I run through before any warm outing, be it a day in white water, an afternoon on a SUP or 15 km out kayak fishing.
After all, prior planning prevents poor performance. 

  1. Check the weather the day before.
    It sounds obvious, but it can be easy to miss.
    In the excitement of the adventure it is something that you only remember once you’re getting pounded by mother nature on the day.
    If you’re planning on heading out and it’s going to be plus 40, it’s time to adjust your plans.
    As great as floating in the harbour on a hot day is, you are essentially putting yourself in the direct mercy of the sun.
    Maybe think about getting up early or heading out in the late afternoon once the freo doctor has swung back into town.
  2. . Paddle the Magic Hours
    Just about any weather site on the web can provide you with the projected times for sunrises and sunsets. Launch your kayak a mere hour or two before these ‘magic hours’ and you will find much cooler paddling conditions AND cooler temperatures. The fishing and wildlife observation is also at its best close to sunrise and close to sunset.Keep your trips short in the hot summertime, especially when taking new paddlers along.
  3. Freeze some water, but not all of it.
    Some icy cold water can make all the difference while you’re catching every bit of the suns rays.
    This being said, make sure you take some water that you can actually drink as well. You’re already floating on an incredibly large body of undrinkable water, so there’s no need to mentally torture yourself with more undrinkable water in your bottle. I’m not talking a 500mL bottle, I’m talking about a minimum of 3L. You don’t know how much you value that extra water until you need it – so don’t try and wing it.
    Additional frozen goodies are always welcome. Take the extra 5 minutes and throw some grapes into the freezer the night before.
    The frozen combination of juicy freshness will bring you back into the cool no matter where you find yourself.
  4. Slip, slop, slap.
    Okay, I know what you are thinking already: “Yes mum, I get it, I won’t forget my sunscreen”.
    But seriously, slip slop slap.
    If constantly reapplying sunscreen to every inch of your skin annoys you – wear a long sleeve. wear an extra broad brimmed hat.
    You may look a little dorky covered head to toe, but give me dorkiness over sunburn any day.Once wet, Cotton works to draws heat away from your body. Hence the saying ‘cotton kills’ is often thrown around in winter.  However, if you’re smart you can use this excess chilling disadvantage as an advantage on those extra hot days.
  5. Go for a swim
    I’ll finish up on this one.
    It can sound obvious, but easily forgotten. If you’re out on the water as the rays bounce straight off the surface and ripping through your skin it can be surprisingly easy to forget that the best remedy is to simply jump in.
    If you’re right in the middle of the harbour in a shipping lane I wouldn’t jump straight in.
    But if you’re nice and close to the shore, pull into a beach and take a short 5 minutes to stretch the legs and jump in.

I am not saying all this in order to scare you away from the water this summer. Afterall, water feels like such a God-send on a scorching day.
If you only take one thing away from this, let it be this: be careful. Don’t forget the hidden dangers in the summer fun, it’s no fun spending your summer holidays recovering whilst your friends are out having a splash.