Despite warming air temperatures in the summer months, summer water temperatures in Washington State average just 55 degrees. These low water temperatures carry a high risk of hypothermia and drowning. As the human body enters cold water, it becomes shocked. The body instinctively gasps for air, increasing the danger of swallowing too much water which may lead to drowning. Blood pressure and heart rate also greatly increase as the body is shocked. This can trigger panic, hyperventilation and cardiac arrest. Furthermore, in this state of shock, the human body naturally takes blood flow from the arms and legs and puts it to the core to warm the center of the body, which poses risks of muscle failure and inability to swim. The Coast Guard reminds all boaters of these very real risks, and urges boaters to take caution during the busiest months on the water. It is essential to realize that the dangers of the cold water exist even in the otherwise warm weather.
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