We just read a very tragic story in the Seattle Times about two Whidbey Island active navy men who drowned this weekend while kayaking. The cause of death for both men was accidental saltwater drowning with hypothermia.
According to the report, both men were wearing life vests. The men, however, were not dressed for being in the cold water, as both were said to be wearing jeans.
We suspect that neither of the men may have been familiar with kayaking and swimming in the waters of the Puget Sound and the dangers of cold water and strong tides. Although the air temperature can be in the 70’s and the sun shining, the water temperature is still very cold with temperatures in the low 50’s.
Boating Accidents in Cold Water
Have you ever read about a person who fell off a dock or drowned in relatively shallow water? These drowning deaths almost seem incomprehensible. One wonders why the victim couldn’t save themselves? The reason is often the cold shock/gasp reflex.
Cold-water immersion, is the leading cause of death in many boating accidents. When a person falls into cold water, the following things can happen:
- Cold shock – The cold water can cause someone to gasp and involuntarily inhale the cold water into their lungs. A person can drown in less than 1/2 cup of water in the lungs and it can occur very quickly.
- Swimming failure – The victim loses the dexterity, is unable to match breathing to swimming stroke, loses coordination and has trouble keeping their head above water.
- Hypothermia – A condition in which the body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees. Hypothermia can set in just a few short minutes if the water is cold. In the Puget Sound with water temperatures around 50 degrees, an adult can become hypothermic in under 12 minutes depending on the person’s size.
Washington Boating Accident Lawyer
This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent people who have been seriously injured in Washington boating accidents and the family of those who have been killed.