PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Coast Guard Sector Virginia and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore are reminding recreational boaters and paddlers to be mindful of the inherent dangers of cold-water temperatures as air temperatures rise in the region.
The official said as the air temperatures increase to spring-like conditions through the weekend, the ocean, Chesapeake Bay, rivers, and surrounding lakes in the area remain significantly colder.
Cold water is especially dangerous this time of year because warmer air temperatures can encourage people to dress for warmer weather, without realizing the water temperature is drastically different, officials said in a press release.
“Dressing for the water temperature, not the air temperature, and wearing a lifejacket are the best ways to increase your chance of survival should you fall in cold water,” said Lt. Mitchell Latta, a Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator at Sector Virginia.
“Not only do life jackets keep you afloat, but they also provide insulation and make you visible to responders. Therefore, having a life jacket on before entering the water is key,” said Latta.
Statistics have shown approximately 20% of people who fall into cold water die within the first minute due to shock.
The Coast Guard said even the strongest swimmers lose muscle control after 10 minutes of being exposed to cold water, making it nearly impossible to put on a life jacket and call for help.
For more information on how to stay safe on the water, you can visit the Coast Guard Auxiliary’s boating safety website.