Yakima County Sheriff's Office stresses cold water awareness - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima County Sheriff's Office stresses cold water awareness

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YAKIMA, WA - With the weather warming up and summer just around the corner, the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Parks wants to remind everyone of the dangers associated with the cold-water temperatures if you decide to take a dip to cool off.

The area rivers are running with snow melt off at this time of year, and the water temperatures may well be below 50 degrees and lower.

Experts define cold water as anything below 70 degrees. In Washington, most waterways stay under 60 degrees year-round. When people hear or think about 60-degree water, it doesn't sound particularly cold—or dangerous—because they're mentally comparing it to 60-degree air.

With water this cold, it only takes a few minutes for hypothermia to start to set in. It only takes a moment for panic to take over if you jump or fall into water this cold. The body want to gasp for air and if your head is below water, this means gasping water into your lungs, possibly leading to a bad outcome.

See the attached flyers for more information and tips on how to stay safe.