Beware of Cold Water Dangers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Coast Guard reminds boaters to be mindful of cold water temperatures during unseasonably warm days.

Water temperatures don’t warm as quickly as air temperatures, which creates a potentially dangerous situation for boaters dressed for mild temperatures and unprepared for cold water temperatures.

When water temperatures drop below 70 degrees, hypothermia can become a fatal factor. Boaters should recognize the dangers of hypothermia and their symptoms. Hypothermia is the lowering of the body core temperature and symptoms include shivering, drowsiness, confusion, dizziness and weakness. Exposure suits increase your chance of not suffering from hypothermia.

Another way to improve survivability in the water is to stay as still as possible. Trying to swim to shore will only deplete much needed body heat and energy. A position called the Heat Escape Lessening Position, or H.E.L.P., will help reduce the loss of body heat by as much as 50 percent. This position is done by tucking your legs into your chest and crossing your arms, hugging yourself.

The Coast Guard recommends that boaters have an exposure suit for everyone aboard, have signaling devices, a VHF radio and file a float plan when going out on the water.

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