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Low Water Temps Pose Danger To Boaters [AUDIO]

With the weather getting warmer, many New Jersey residents might be ready to set sail in their boats, but the New Jersey State Police warns that dangerously cold water temperatures could still pose a danger to some small vessels.

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(Lidian Neeleman, ThinkStock)

The cold water boating season, which runs between November and May, is a particularly dangerous time according to the State Police. Though the number of boats on the water is significantly less than during the height of summer, the percentage of boating accidents that end up in fatalities is higher.

During the past several years, the NJSP has reported at least one death per year during cold water boating season, with two deaths in 2012.

State police advise boaters to have life jackets readily accessible. The life jackets should be properly fitted, and everyone aboard should know how to put them on in case of an emergency.

“Obviously, we recommend you wear them at all times so if an emergency does happen, you have your life jacket on, especially with water temperatures like they are this time of year,” said Sgt. Christopher Jones of the State Police Marine Services Bureau.

During a demonstration of safe boating practices in Wiggins Park Marina in Camden on Thursday, State Police received an unexpected call regarding a person swimming in the Delaware River at the base of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge. The unidentified man was taken to a local hospital to be treated for hypothermia.

Jones warned that while water temperatures in the mid-50s might not seem particularly cold, exposure can bring the onset of hypothermia quickly.

“You have about five to 10 minutes before you start losing the functionality of extremities, your hands, your fingers, your legs,” he said. “They’re all going to slow down until the point that you cannot use them anymore.”

In addition, Jones said falling into the water can cause an involuntary response, forcing you to gasp for air.

“So your mouth is automatically going to open and you’re going to intake air; if you’re below the water’s surface, you’re going to intake that water,” Jones said.

The current also remains strong and can be deceptively powerful, dragging victims even more off-course.

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