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Coast Guard informs public of cold weather precautions

CLEVELAND – The Coast Guard is reminding mariners and outdoors enthusiasts of the dangers presented by cold weather as temperatures drop in the Great Lakes region.

Cold air and freezing water temperatures significantly decrease survival time for persons immersed in the water or exposed to the elements.

Units throughout the Coast Guard Ninth District, which covers the Great Lakes region, conduct hundreds of ice rescue cases and training each winter.

Before heading out on the water, the Coast Guard asks for you to remember the following:

1. Take precautions, not chances. The risk of death from accidental immersion during cold weather seasons is higher than in warm seasons. The water is colder and survival time is greatly diminished.

2. Dress for the water temperatures. Cold water lowers body heat dramatically faster than cold air. Even if you are not planning on entering the water, the possibility of that happening is very real. An unexpected fall overboard is one of the leading factors in boating deaths.

3. Never leave without a VHF-FM radio or personal locator beacon and always be sure to tell someone where you are going, when you expect to return and advise them of any changes in the plan. Every minute counts in a cold-water environment, and preparation may mean the difference between life and death. Freezing temperatures drain battery life in electronic devices quickly.

“Functional electronic distress signals, cell phones with fully charged batteries, and auditory distress signals should be on your person every time you go out,” said Petty Officer Second Class Adrian Ledesma, Instructor at the National Ice Rescue School. “It is such a time critical mission, when dealing with distress in icy water.”

For more information about cold water safety, recommended safety gear and tips for handling emergencies, visit the Cold Water Boot Camp website at: http://www.coldwaterbootcampusa.org/

Mariners are encouraged to check forecast and water temperatures in preparation for their trips using local weather guidance or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association resources.

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