Cold water temperatures a danger to boaters

Cold water temperatures a danger to boaters

The frigid temperatures have taken some people by surprise - on the ground and in the water.

Just this week, the U.S. Coast Guard and officers with the Department of Marine Resources rescued boaters who were tossed into frigid water in Jackson County.

Officials are warning that something like that can turn life-threatening in just moments.

Fishing in cold temperatures is something new for Wiggins resident Bobby Jones.

But he’s ready to take on the challenge.

“I don’t really know anything about it,” he said. “This is my first time to fish in water this cold, so it’s a learning experience for me.”

It’s also an experience for him to launch in shallow water, which has chased away a lot of back water fishermen. The cold north winds have created a chronic low tide.

But with some careful maneuvering and proper clothing, he said he’ll be fine.

The air temperature is cold and so is the water. Gulfport Lake was 45 degrees at noon. If someone falls into the water, in 15 minutes, he or she could get hypothermia. In an hour, that person could die.

Keith Davis, DMR’s Chief of Marine Patrol, said he believes boaters have been caught off guard, and that has the DMR on alert when people are in trouble.

“Our response to that certainly considers all of those factors on those individuals developing hypothermia really, really quickly,” Davis said. “When those calls came out for rescue a couple of days ago, that’s one of the main things that we were concerned about.”

And it he said rescue efforts like the one this week can create danger for officers as well.

“Our officers actually got stuck in the elements themselves so, now I’ve got the individual who needs to be rescued and two officers that need to be rescued.”

Davis said his best advice is to simply remember that the water is more dangerous as it gets colder and to prepare accordingly if you’re going out.

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