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Dangers associated with cold water boating


Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Nov 05, 2014 in Boating Accidents

Many people in the state of Connecticut have put their boats away for the season. There are, however still some who for a variety of reasons continue to take their boats out. For these individuals the same risks associated with boating in the summer exist. In addition however, there are other risks that come with boating in the colder months. Those risks include hypothermia and cold shock, should someone fall into the water. Both can be fatal.

Readers may be familiar with the some of the symptoms associated with hypothermia which occurs when someone’s core body temperature decreases from what is normal. These symptoms include:

  • Shivering.
  • Uncontrolled rapid breathing.
  • Muscle rigidity.
  • Loss of voluntary motor function.

When these symptoms appear a person becomes unable to make good decisions or physically execute on them. Unconsciousness occurs when a core body temperature falls to 86 degrees Fahrenheit and death will when someone’s temperature drops to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold shock describes the way in which a body responds to submersion in cold water. The shock may cause an individual to gasp for air, and in the process take water into their lungs. This could lead to a person dying due to drowning, before they even get a chance to try to recover from the fall into the cold water. Having a life jacket on could keep you alive long enough to be rescued. For some individuals however, a life jacket may not be enough. This is because the shock of the cold water could trigger cardiac arrest.

In our next post we will focus on strategies that could save your life or the life of someone you are with, should a boat accident occur on a cold lake.

Source: American Boating Association, “Hypothermia and Cold Shock - The Risks of Off Season Boating" Pete Seidel, Accessed Nov. 5, 2014