Ways to stay safe when heading out on the river Memorial Day weekend

The air temperature is not the same as the water temperature

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – Some people spend their time out on the water during Memorial Day weekend. 22News is working for you with what you should know before thinking of dipping into really cold water.

Memorial Day weekend is said to be the “unofficial start to summer” but it won’t feel like summer, especially by the water. Some people choose to spend their Memorial Day weekend near the river, either boating, canoeing, or kayaking.

The National Weather Service is urging people to be careful when going out on the river because water temperatures are still cold.

Having warm air temperatures doesn’t mean the water temperatures are also warm.

Lieutenant Michael Haslen, from the Agawam Fire Department, told 22News, “The temperatures that we’re at right now, between 50 and 60 degrees, when you enter the water your body enters what is called a ‘cold shock.’ The problem with that is that your body shrinks all it’s exterior forces towards the center, which turns into your fingers becoming numb, and you have trouble breathing.”

Recent rains have also made the rivers and lakes higher than normal. It doesn’t take much force from the water to take a person under. Higher rivers also lead to water moving into new places along the river. So even loyal boaters can become surprised by the new water, which can lead to your boat capsizing.

There are some safety measures you can take before heading out on the river. Wear a dry suit, make sure someone knows where you are, have a life jacket with you, and use the buddy system and go out on the river with a friend.