Warm weather spurs warnings of dangerously cold water

KING COUNTY, Wash. – Temperatures could climb to uncomfortably hot in Western Washington this week.

Finding a lake or river to beat the heat won’t be hard – but those lakes and rivers are still dangerously cold.

Most of the rivers in our region originate from snow melt, which means swimmers will not only have to battle a strong currents and frigid temperatures can zap your energy and even cause victims to gasp for air if they fall in.

Plus, Puget Sound and surrounding lakes will also likely be packed with boaters.

“They’re unprepared for the hypothermia that may set in,” said Deputy Chris Bedker from the county marine rescue division. “The cold-water shock, they’re dressed for the weather not the water.”

Officials told Q13 News 21 people died while boating in 2018 and about half of those died using vessels like paddle boards.

The bottom line, say first responders, wearing a flotation vest can save your life even if your plan is to stay on a boat.

“The cold water can kill you,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Padilla from the USCG.

Officials recommend people try-on a life vest before hitting the water and make sure it cannot pop off if you fall in.

Plus, another good idea is to tell someone where you plan to boat or float and bring along a sound-making device that can help rescue crews locate victims in case of an emergency.