CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The weather is warming up, but local waterways remain cold, cold enough to pose a safety risk in the wrong scenario.
Hypothermia can set in with prolonged exposure to water as warm as 70 degrees, and according to data, most of our rivers and lakes are not that warm yet. According to real-time water temperature data for some popular swimming rivers in western Massachusetts, none have risen above that hypothermia threshold of 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The aptly-named Cold River coming in at just 51 degrees measured up in Florida on Wednesday. More mainstream, the Connecticut River measured just south of the state line in Thompsonville, coming in at 68 degrees.
In water at that temperature, loss of dexterity can set in after 30 to 40 minutes. Below 60 degrees, it takes 10 to 15 minutes. Anything 50 or under, close to the Cold River up there, can happen in under five minutes.
Those are not the only risks though, cold shock when you enter water that cold can set in immediately, taking your breath away, heightening heart rate and blood pressure, and suppressing movement. Without a Coast guard approved personal floatation device on, those symptoms can be life-threatening in the short term.
So, if you’re out swimming in natural water this week, be aware of your body temperature, swim with a buddy, and have a life vest.
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