Warm temps, cold water increase drowning danger

Warm temps, cold water increase drowning danger

Warm temps, cold water increase drowning danger

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on April 30, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 30 at 1:59 PM

Wednesday and Thursday are expected to be around 80 degrees in Western Washington, and many people will head to to the water, but don't give in to the temptation to jump in. According to monitoring buoys, Lake Washington is only 53 degrees and Lake Sammamish 55 degrees.

If you had to guess which month claimed the most lives to boating deaths, you might think of July, which is the month when warmer weather finally settles in.  You'd be close, but you would be wrong. May is most lethal, according to the state parks department data base.

The problem, say experts, is the mix between warmer air temperatures that finally arrive, and cold water temperatures.

And if you fall in the water, what kills is not just hypothermia - many people succumb to "cold water shock."  That's when hitting the water causes a person to gasp, and if that  gasp comes under water,  the process of drowning begins. 

Rivers present additional hazards from swift current that can trap a person underwater from fallen trees and exposed roots and rocks - hazards that can crop up from a winter of rain and flooding.

Life jackets prevent a person from inhaling water from cold water shock by keeping a person's head above water.  But exposure to the cold can lead to hypothermia, where the body's core temperature drops, leading to death, and cold incapacitation, where the body's attempt to maintain its core temperature reduces blood flow to hands and feet, limiting a person's ability to self-rescue.

 

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