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Game and Fish reminding boaters that Arizona lakes remain dangerously cold

2/24/2016

NORTH VALLEY – Arizona’s record warm temperatures may already have some residents eyeing area lakes, but the Arizona Game and Fish Department reminds those looking to hit the water that the state’s waterways remain dangerously cold.

While record-setting temperatures have hit the Phoenix area – hitting the 90-degree mark last week – water temperatures remain between the 50s and 60s at Arizona’s boating havens.

“We’ve seen phenomenally beautiful weather, but unfortunately none of that warmth has done much of anything to heat up our lakes,” said AZGFD Boating Safety Education Coordinator Josh Hoffman. “Cold water can be deadly and anyone who exposes themselves to such cold water is placing themselves in danger.”

Water colder than 77 degrees can send a person into shock, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Even in a healthy person, cold-water immersion can impact muscle movement, breathing and heart rate. Prolonged exposure to the water can lead to hypothermia, cardiac arrest, and death.

If you fall overboard, climb back into or on top of the boat. If you cannot, stay near the vessel and use oars or anything floating nearby to help stay afloat.

“Area lakes offer year-round family fun even during winter months, but it’s critical for everyone to wear a life jacket,” Hoffman said. “Should someone fall or be thrown overboard, that life jacket – regardless of water temperature – could very well save your life.”

Life jackets aren’t just a good idea – they are required by state law for anybody 12 years old and younger when the boat is underway. There must also be at least one life jacket available for everyone aboard.

Last year, the Department installed Life Jacket Loaner Stations at Lake Pleasant, Lake Havasu, and Lake Mohave, at which boaters needing a life jacket can borrow one and use it on the lake. Based on the success of the program, the Department plans to install additional stations this year at Canyon Lake, Apache Lake, and Bartlett Lake.

Boaters are also encouraged to learn how to practice safe boating techniques and to respond in the event of an emergency by completing a hands-on safety course. To register for a free course or for more information on boating in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov/boating.