With the cold and rapidly changing weather affecting the Gulf Coast and inland rivers, the Coast Guard is cautioning boaters to be wary of the increase risk of hypothermia.
Freezing temperatures are forecasted for the Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois Rivers in the coming days, and though the Gulf Coast weather is projected to be milder, the dangers of hypothermia, collisions and sinking still exist.
When plunged into 50-60 degree water, the human body reacts the same way it does when exposed 70-80 degree water for extended periods of time. As soon as the body's core temperature drops below 95 degree, hypothermia sets in, which in cold water happens 25 times faster than in freezing air.
In order to stay safe, the Coast Guard recommends the following tips:
- Stay informed: check local weather forecasts prior to leaving the docks and keep an eye on changing conditions.
- Always wear a life jacket: life jackets will both keep you above water and help the body retain its core temperature.
- File a float plan: Let people know when and where you're heading out so authorities can be alerted in the event you go missing and know where to search, saving crucial hours during rescue.
- NEVER boat under the influence.
- Protect yourself from the cold elements.
To read the Coast Guard press release, click here.