The dangers of cold water shock

(KOMO File Photo)

Despite a few days of really warm weather, lakes and rivers around here are still dangerously cold, ranging from the upper 30's to mid 40's.

Ted Buehner with the National Weather Service says if you fall into the water, you're going to experience what's called cold water shock. You'll gasp for air – it's an involuntary reflex – and if you're under water, you'll take in water, not air.

"Many of the drowning cases we've had here in the state of Washington, at least over the last decade or so, have been what’s called cold water shock or cold water immersion,” Buehner said. “Not hypothermia, that's 30 minutes later. But, if you don't survive that initial minute, that's the problem."

Cold water does a lot of other things. It will change your heart rate and shut down your muscles.

"Even if you're an Olympic swimmer, you won't be able to handle the muscle activity that you need at that point in that cold water,” Buehner told me.

That's why you always wear a life vest when you're around water. It could save your life.

More Info: How Cold Water Kills So Quickly

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