Cold Water Risks
3:58 pm
Fri April 20, 2012

Sunshine Brings Recreational Water Use On Deathly Cold Water

Gorgeous weather is on its way to the Puget Sound region, for the third weekend in a row. That means, kayakers and canoers are eager to get back out on the water. But officials warn that high air temperatures can be misleading, because the water in rivers and lakes is so much colder.

Ted Buehner with the National Weather Service says six people drowned in Washington in the last month in accidents involving non-motorized boats.

"Typically when we start to get warm, people start to head for the water. And incidents occur," Buehner says. "It kinda boils down to making sure that you have your lifejacket on, and being prepared in case you find yourself in the water. In other words, having a buddy or several buddies there to pull you out before you become hypothermic."

Buehner says in 40 degree water, that only takes 15 minutes.

Thursday police rescued two men whose canoe capsized in Puget Sound, near Blake Island. That’s south of Bainbridge Island. Buehner says the men were just minutes away from dying of hypothermia.

This is the first time in ten years Washington state has seen this many drownings in such a short period of time, all related to small watercraft.

Copyright 2012 KUOW