Staying Safe in the Water during the Winter Season


Since the winter season is on its way, bodies of water like the ocean, rivers, or even Humboldt Bay are about to become even colder and more dangerous. 

Redwood News spoke with the Community Risk Reduction Specialist at Humboldt Bay Fire, to get water safety tips. 

“The water is really cold right now and even at 50 degrees, death from hypothermia can happen within minutes up to the first hour,” Talia Flores said. 

Hypothermia is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, the body loses heat faster than it’s produced, which depletes your energy. This makes it extremely hard to swim back to shore. 

“It’s important to know that currents are always stronger than they look if you are planning on going swimming, try your hardest not to go swimming alone,” Flores said. “If you are going to swim alone, make sure that you bring appropriate equipment for self-rescue or any kind of flotation devices that you might need.”

That safety equipment includes:

“A life jacket if you’re going to go kayaking, paddle boarding, anything like that […] life jackets are great–there are buoys you can bring with you to keep track of your stuff that you’ve got with you if you’re surfing or anything,” Flores said. “Having your board attached to that strap is very important […] other life safety equipment that doesn’t necessarily relate to flotation would be your wetsuit […] it would be smart to bring emergency lighting if you were to get stuck, it’s a lot easier to locate you if you’ve got an emergency light with you.”

Because king tide is here along the north coast, surfers wanting to catch large waves should always plan ahead.

“It’s important when you’re going surfing jet skiing, anything like that, to check the tide before you go out,” Flores said. “King tide is coming, checking before you go is always a really good tool before you get out there and go surfing.”

Always remember to be aware of your surroundings and never turn your back on the water–

“Sneaker waves can come up out of nowhere,” Flores said. “They’ll be low tide and then all of a sudden, it’ll be all the way high again so just be aware, watching your children, watching your animals.”

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