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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The weather is getting warmer, and the fish are biting. Many boaters are heading out to enjoy a warm, sunny day. However, the Army Corps of Engineers cautions boaters that although the weather is getting warmer, lakes and rivers are still cold. Immersion in cold water can, well, get you into “hot water” very quickly.
Extra caution should be taken for the next several weeks. Always wear a life jacket, even when launching your boat. In an emergency, a life jacket will keep you afloat. It can also help conserve body heat and delay the onset of hypothermia. For instance, last year the average temperature of Beaver Lake in northwest Arkansas in March was 42 degrees. Water that cold will quickly sap energy from even a strong swimmer.
If your boat gets loose while trying to launch it, which happens sometimes even to veteran boaters, do not swim to catch it. Get help from another boater. Wind and currents can quickly move your boat farther away. The cold water will limit even a strong swimmer, and you can quickly find yourself in deadly trouble.
Boaters intend to be in the boat, not in the water. But you can unexpectedly wind up in the water for any of a thousand reasons. Cold water can quickly limit your chances of survival. So be prepared — wear your life jacket.
Other tips for boating in cold water include:
- Dress warmly with wool clothing or other fabrics that do not readily absorb water.
- Wear rain gear and stay dry.
- Seek a warm environment at the first sign (mild shivering) of hypothermia.
- Be aware of activity around your boat and the potential for fast-changing weather.
- Be sure your boat is in good operating condition and has necessary safety equipment.
For more information about water safety, visit the Little Rock District Website at www.swl.usace.army.mil or check out the district’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/littlerockusace.