Paddleboarding

A paddleboarder makes his way along the shoreline near 31st Street on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in Virginia Beach.

WAKEFIELD

Forecasters are calling for a couple of days of beautiful weather, with temperatures forecast to be in the 70s Thursday and Friday.

That's the kind of stuff that will get people outside to play in their kayaks and on their paddleboards.

The problem is, the water is still in the mid 40s.

That's why the National Weather Service has issued a cold water warning.

The service started the program in Virginia last year, borrowing from a similar alert system in Maine. The service partners with the U.S. Coast Guard.

Even with warm air, falling into cold water can be deadly. The service said approximately 20 percent of those who fall in this time of year will die in the first minute because of cold water shock. Good swimmers are no less at risk, because extremely cold water can cause them to lose muscle control in about 10 minutes.

Body heat can be lost 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air and wearing a life jacket significantly increases the chance of survival.

The weather service and Coast Guard use a cold water principal called 1-10-1 — meaning there can be cold shock or rapid breathing in the first minute, a loss of muscle control by 10 minutes and hypothermia within an hour, depending on how cold the water is. Most cold water deaths occur well before hypothermia sets in.

The first minute in cold water can be critical, since cold shock causes involuntary gasping.

"If breathing isn’t controlled immediately, the possibility of drowning drastically increases," the weather service's briefing said. "Many people hyperventilate, faint, and drown before they are able to calm down their breathing."

Lee Tolliver, 757-222-5844, lee.tolliver@pilotonline.com

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