Warmer Weather Doesn’t Mean Warm Water, State Police Warn [AUDIO]
After a recent accident involving a boater losing his life, New Jersey State Police are warning boaters wanting to get a jump on the season that the warm temperatures can still mean dangerously cold water.
Last year, State Police reported two cold water deaths, and already on Monday rescue crews found a 56-year-old man in the Round Valley Reservoir in Hunterdon County when his boat overturned.
The man was not wearing a life jacket and police found his body seventy feet below water.
Similar instances are common during this time of year, nationally during the off season four times as many boating accidents result in a fatality when the water temperature is 39 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
The NJSP report, last year two people died in 10 cold water accidents as opposed to the five deaths in 118 warm water boat accidents.
Sergeant Adam Grossman warns boaters though the air temperatures might be reaching into the seventies, and seem hospitable, the waterways in the state are still frigid. That causes people falling overboard to experience an involuntary gasp, immediately exhaling and inhaling, often taking water into their lungs.
“You have that involuntary gasp reflex where you automatically exhale followed by uncontrollable gasping. This occurs and people generally panic with the lack of a floatation aid.”
The cold water also quickly saps victims of their strength and slows movement. The state police notes, the human body cools down 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air.
“If you fall into the water in those temperatures, you will quickly have muscle fatigue, which will make it harder if you have an accident to get back to the shore or into your boat,” says Grossman.
How to Prepare for Boating in Frigid Waters
While a life jacket is the first and foremost important safety item, Grossman notes there are numerous things you can do to prepare yourself for a boating trip during the colder months.
“Place your mobile phone in a waterproof plastic bag, keep it on your person, obviously check the weather forecast, speaking with locals about local boating hazards, and bring charts and maps of the area,” says Grossman.
Additionally, it is recommended to dress in layers, which will trap body heat even when wet. Wool and Polypropylene are good materials for such conditions.