Coast Guard demonstrates cold-water survival on Eastern Shore

CAPE CHARLES, Va. - The Coast Guard hosted News 3 on the Eastern Shore Tuesday for a cold-water survival demonstration.

In April of this year, the Coast Guard says there were four back-to-back fatalities related to cold water in North Carolina and Maryland.

With the waterfowl and striped bass season taking place in the winter and spring months, the Coast Guard wanted to get the word out about how dangerous cold water can be and what you can do to react if something happens and you find yourself in the water.

The Coast Guard says water below 70 degrees is considered dangerous.

"Even though it feels like a nice day out there, you are at increased risk. We’ve actually found that we have a peak in these cold water exposure cases during what would appear to be nicer, sunnier days," Lieutenant Gary George told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.

Roughly 20% of people who fall into cold water die within the first minute due to cold-water shock, with muscle control deteriorating within 10 minutes. That makes it difficult to swim or stay afloat without a life jacket.

"Even the strongest swimmers can lose muscle control after 10 minutes, so it’s really important to always wear your life jacket. Tt’s harder than you think to put it on when you’re in the water," Petty Officer Third Class Shannon Kearney explained.

The Coast Guard urges everyone to wear a life jacket when out on the water and say having the right gear can save your life.