As the weather warms up this weekend, with air temperatures forecasted at close to 100 degrees, many people will be seeking refuge from the heat. However, Paul Walker, a senior meteorologist at State College, Pa., advises people to use caution before jumping into water that is still pretty chilly this time of year.
“People will think oh, we’ll jump in the river or the stream or even a pool that hasn’t been heated up... the cold water can be dangerous for your body as you jump in,” said Walker. “It causes the blood vessels in the skin to close which increases your blood flow. The heart rate also increases, causes your heart to work harder and your blood pressure goes up. It can cause a heart attack, even in the young and healthy people.”
Walker said cold water shock is a concern for anybody who jumps into a stream or the river this time of year. Off the Atlantic Coast, water temperatures are still in the upper 40s lower 50s, which he said is pretty similar to the local lakes and streams because of the recent cold temperatures.
“People should be careful jumping in the cold water to try to get some relief,” stressed Walker. “You’re talking about [water] temperatures which are a lot of cases, maybe as much as 30 degrees colder than normal body temperature, you know, so that’s what causes a shock to cause you to lose your breath from jumping into that cold water, the sudden change in temperature that you feel.”
Walker advises a more gradual entry into the cold water. He also said people shouldn’t stay in the cold water too long, and make sure there are others around in case you lose consciousness.
Jessica Sticklor, the executive assistant to the town of Brattleboro, issued a news release Thursday afternoon urging residents to drink plenty of water, wear light clothing and stay out of the heat as much as possible during the weekend heat wave. The National Weather Service has issued heat advisory warnings for much of the Northeast on Saturday, with temperatures expected in the 95- to 99-degree range. There will be a couple of cooling sites around town for people to escape the heat — the Brooks Memorial Library on Main Street and Central Fire Station on Elliot Street.