VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - This week's forecasts might be calling for some spring-like temperatures, but as February is only beginning, there is no doubt more cold weather ahead.
In response, the Virginia Beach Fire Department conducted cold-water rescue training without protective survival suits or wetsuits Wednesday.
According to the Coast Guard, only 8 percent of boating accidents are fatal when water temperatures are 70 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit, while more than 40 percent of boating accidents are fatal when water temperatures are under 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Though the VBFD is equipped with different types of watercraft and protective suits for cold-weather water rescues, every second counts in a water rescue, and specialized equipment may not be immediately available. This means that the first firefighters on-scene may be forced to enter cold water at risk to their own safety to save someone from drowning.
Wednesday's exercise helped firefighters know what to expect when they enter cold water without a protective suit, including what happens to their breathing, heart rate, strength and ability to reach the victim.