NewsLocal News


Officials urge life jackets, warn of cold water dangers as temperatures drop

Exposure to cold water can incapacitate someone in under 15 minutes
Posted at 8:03 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 22:03:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY — As temperatures continue to drop in Utah, officials are reminding those who enjoy water recreation to pack a life jacket, even if you don't think you'll need one.

About 50% of boating accidents that occur in cold water are fatal. That's because cold water causes panic and decreases even a strong swimmer's ability to float.

Just five to 15 minutes of exposure to cold water can completely incapacitate someone. In about 30 minutes, hypothermia starts to set in.

With a life jacket, a person's survival time is increased to up to an hour as they can still float even if their muscles and nervous system are temporarily impaired.

In Utah, it's required that all boats have at least one life jacket for each person on board. Passengers 12-years-old and younger are required to wear a life jacket whenever the boat is in operation.

Officials also recommend these tips before you head out for water use:

  • Check the weather and water temperature
  • Recreate with a buddy. Don’t venture out alone
  • If you fall in the water remain calm and try to stay afloat. Adequate breathing should follow as long as you can stay calm.
  • Focus on meaningful movements, such as getting back in the boat or to shore
  • Carry a cell phone in a waterproof container

For additional information about boating and water recreation in Utah, click here.