JORDANELLE RESERVOIR, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – several people fell into the freezing water of the Jordanelle Reservoir today, and some did not have life vests on. Thankfully, this was all part of a drill raising awareness about the effects of cold water on the human body.
“It hits you like a ton of bricks,” said Colin Anderson, who was one of volunteers who took the leap.
Difficulty breathing and confusion, those are some of your body’s responses to cold water.
“it blows your mind, like your body gets sucked out of itself, kinda pankicy for a little while,” said BJ Christenson, who is an experienced swimmer and a finisher at the Kona Ironman.
When the water is colder than 49 degrees, 50 % of boating accidents are fatal, today, the water temperature was 46 degrees. Water will remove heat from your body 25 times more rapidly than air of the same temperature.
“When you enter water this cold, blood shunts away from your periphery to your core, your central nervous system starts to malfunction and this leads to difficulty with concentration, making decisions, clumsiness, and use of your muscles,” said Dr. David Eller, emergency room physician at St. Mark’s Hospital.
It’s something I experienced firsthand.
“I literally feel like needles are going through my skin right now.”
I was one of several people who took the plunge into freezing waters today to demonstrate these effects. All volunteers had their vitals checked before and after the dive. And each volunteers time in the water varied from 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
The following vitals were recorded for three participants before and after the jump, myself included:
Body Temperature Before: 97.6F After: 96.2F
Body Temperature Before: 97F After: 92F
Body Temperature Before: 94.6F After: 88.7F
Mild hypothermia can occur below 95F, keep in mind a normal body temperature runs at 98F. Below 90F it becomes severe, and anything below 80F become profound where most people wont function at all if they’re even awake.
“My body is all tingly, literally felt like needles were going through my skin the entire time, and my fingers are numb,”
Utah State Parks want to remind visitors, even though the weather is heating up, it’s still not safe to take a dip.
Even for an experienced swimmer like B.J. Christenson, the experience was chilling.
“For me swimming a couple of miles is not a big deal but swimming in that type of water, that task would be nearly impossible,” said Christenson.
Obviously, water this cold can be life threatening. Because of that, parks rangers say it’s not enough to just have a lifevest on board, you need to have it on. Not only does it help you float, it can keep you warm. Extending that 10 minutes of survival to an hour. And in a dangerous situation, every minute counts.
Utah has a 49% life jacket wear rate according to Utah State Parks rangers reporting from Oct. 1, 2013 to Sept. 30, 2014.
Of the 15,684 people contacted 7,744 where wearing life jackets. Most of the weareres were children or those being towed behind a boat.
Some othe safety tips, are to stay calm, try to control your breathing, carry a cell phopne in a waterproof case, and focus on moving back towards the boat or the shore.
Utah State Parks have the following 1-10-1 Rule:
1 minute to get breathing under control
10 minutes of meaningful movement
1 hour before loss of consciousness and hypothermia
For more information, visit stateparks.utah.gov or call (801) 538-BOAT