[OSMB-News] News Release -Warm weather and cold water combination can bedeadly
Ashley.Massey at state.or.us
Wed May 17 14:29:02 PDT 2006
For Immediate Release Date: Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Memorial Day Boating Reminders -Go Prepared
Warm weather and cold water combination can be deadly
Wear a life jacket
It was only recently on the Oregon coast, three lives were lost that
could have been saved if the boaters were wearing life jackets.
Accidents happen but they don't have to be fatal accidents. One thing
is certain -life jackets save lives. Here's another reason why it's
important to wear a life jacket; all waterways are cold this time of
year in Oregon. In fact most Oregon waterways are cold year-round.
Understand Cold Water Immersion
There are four stages of cold water immersion:
* Stage 1: Initial "cold shock" occurs in the first 3-5 minutes of
immersion. Sudden immersion into cold water can cause involuntary
gasping, hyperventilation, panic, and vertigo -all which can result in
water inhalation and drowning. Immersion in cold water can also cause
sudden changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and heart rhythm, which
can also result in death.
* Stage 2: Short-term "swim failure" occurs 3-30 minutes into
immersion in cold water. Muscles and nerves in the arms and legs cool
quickly. Manual dexterity, hand grip strength, and speed of movement
can all drop by 60-80 percent. Even normally strong people can lose the
strength necessary to pull themselves out of the water or even to keep
their head above water. Death occurs by drowning.
* Stage 3: Long-term immersion hypothermia begins within 30
minutes depending on the water temperature, clothing, body type, and
your behavior in the water. Cold water robs the body of heat 25 times
faster than cold air. Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat
faster than it produces it, cooling the organs in the core of your body.
Hypothermia eventually leads to loss of consciousness and death, with
or without drowning.
* Stage 4: Post-immersion collapse occurs during or after a
rescue. Once rescued, if you have been immersed in cold water you are
still in danger from collapse of arterial blood pressure leading to a
heart attack. Also, inhaled water can damage your lungs, and heart
problems can develop as cold blood from arms and legs is released into
the core of your body.
Your chance of surviving a cold water immersion depends on having
sufficient flotation to keep your head above water, controlling your
breathing, timely rescue by yourself or others, and heat retention.
Prepare for boating in cold water conditions by wearing a life jacket
and layered clothing for insulation. Equip your vessel with a means for
re-entry (ladder, sling, etc.) to use if you fall in.
Of course, the best prevention is to take all measures necessary to
avoid capsizing or falling into cold water. If you do fall into the
water, follow these tips:
* Try to get control of your breathing. Hold onto something or
stay as still as possible until your breathing settles down. Focus on
floating with your head above water until the cold shock response
* Try to get out of the water. If your boat capsizes, stay with
the boat and pull yourself out of the water as much as you can.
* If for whatever reason you were not wearing a life jacket when
entering the water, look to see if one is floating around you and try to
put it on. Do not take your clothes off. A layer of water trapped
inside your clothing will help insulate you.
* Stay as motionless as possible to conserve heat. Reduce heat
loss by bringing your legs up to your chest and crossing your arms by
holding onto your life jacket. If others are in the water with you,
huddle together to reduce heat loss.
* If you must swim, conserve energy and minimize movement. Swim
on your back and flutter-kick with your lower legs.
In 2004 in Oregon, one third of boating fatalities involved alcohol.
Alcohol's effects on judgment, vision, balance and coordination are
amplified on the water, increasing the likelihood of boating accidents.
Just recently, a severe boat fire occurred on the Columbia River and the
boat operator was arrested for boating under the influence of
intoxicants. Boating under the influence of intoxicants (BUII) is
illegal in Oregon.
Ashley A. Massey
Public Affairs Specialist
Oregon State Marine Board
503-378-8587 ext. 82623
ashley.massey at state.or.us
More information about the OSMB-News