Washington state is experience some of the warmest weather in the country. The beautiful weather and the fact that boating season has begun means that a lot of people are boating and enjoying the many bodies of water in our state. Even though Western Washington expects to read temperatures in the high 70s it is important to remember that the waters are still cold and cold water can kill.
Unfortunately, two people died in two separate incidents on Washington waters over the weekend. On the Stillaguamish River, a man died after his raft overturned. And on Spanaway Lake, a man is presumed drowned after his inner tube flipped and he came out of his life vest.
According to Seattle's King5.com, there was also a water rescue off Ft. Worden State Park of a man and two girls.
When water is is under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, there are physiological responses that can happen if a body becomes immersed in the water.
Cold Water Shock
If a person lands in very cold water, they can go into shock. Their heart rate and blood pressure can go up resulting in a heart attack. Another thing that can happen is hyperventilation, or an involuntary gasp, which can cause a person to take on water.
Many boaters don't wear life vests because they think they can swim. They are over estimating their capabilities because if they end up in very cold water, they can become incapacitated as their core temperatures drops and they can no longer controls their arms or legs enough to keep themselves above water.
Hypothermia is a condition when the core body temperature drops below a level needed to sustain life. Hypothermia can occur when a person swims or falls into cold water. Signs of hypothermia can include shivering, blue skin, slow respiration, slurred speech, muscle stiffness and cardiac arrest.