Conditions and health change. Ever been paddling with someone who gets injured (person complained about elbow pain early in paddle - an hour later, they are incapacitated)?
I admit that I seldom paddle in Florida or shallow water, but I have seen people who were rendered unconscious (overheating), suffered injuries (tendonitis, hit by powerboat, and can imagine lots of conditions where not having a pfd increases risk significantly - lightning is virtually non-existent where I live, but there are areas, Florida comes to mind, where it is remarkably common. I've been a paddler who went out on a calm day and found that an hour later, it was raining and blowing 25 knots, even though the weather report indicated that conditions would be mild that day.
If you paddle for enough years, you experience these types of things. Yes, the odds go down when conditions are good and the water is warm, but they do not disappear. Most hypothermia issues occur in water between 62-72F because people don't think they need thermal protection.
I'm not trying to be the "police," but I do want to raise awareness that there are non-zero increases to risk when basic safety equipment is ignored.
There is nothing I hate hearing about more than deaths resulting from easily avoidable situations (such as the couple who lost their 3 YO son on SF Bay because they seemingly didn't even consider that he could fall off the sailboat). Fortunately, he wasn't uncomfortable in the PFD he didn't want to wear, right?
Do or don't, that's fine and your choice. If you paddle with me, you do. If not, I probably won't say a word, but I will go my own way. Personally, I feel that paddling solo is safer than paddling with someone who exercises what I consider poor judgement.
Heel and Pegpads™
Touring Kayak Paddles
Paddler's Truck Rack
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