LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) wants to remind boaters of the dangers of hypothermia, what they call the cold killer, this the winter season.

In a recent release, USACE said while most people aren’t expecting to get wet when they visit Arkansas lakes and rivers this time of year, boaters should be aware of the added dangers that come with an accidental cold-water immersion.  

Offering tips for boaters on the water, USACE pointed out how important dressing for the water temperature rather than the air temperature is during these frigid months.

The USACE also warns that falling into cold water without a life jacket could be a potentially fatal situation.

“If you fall into cold water without a life jacket, the combination of shock and fatigue are going to play a huge factor in whether you survive or not,” USACE officials said.

According to the USACE, the initial shock following an unexpected fall into cold water causes people to panic, but if someone can get out of the water, they’re going to need warm clothes, a blanket or a heat source to get warm.

“Having a change of clothes or emergency blanket in your vessel could be your best defense against the lingering effects of hypothermia,” USACE officials advised. “Getting out of the wind and wet clothing are very important during this time.”

Officials also asked boaters to take a few extra minutes before leaving their home to think about a float plan and share it with someone before leaving, saying the assurance of someone knowing these details could keep them from panicking.  

Learn more about water and boating safety on the U.S. Corps of Engineers website.