The water may look inviting, but it is cold – even in the summer. If you’re unsuited it means you’re unsuitable for water entry. If you’re planning to go in the water, wear thermal protection. Be prepared by staying warm and afloat.
The Pacific Northwest ocean water temperature ranges from about 7C to 14 C with an average of 10C. Cold water is known to have the maximum effect at temperatures ranging from 15C to 10C. Cold water shock literally takes your breath away. Cold water can rapidly lead to dysfunction of the extremities and, for many people, cold incapacitation within 10 minutes. Note that becoming caught in a current and pulled into deeper water away from shore can take more than 10 minutes to escape from.
How to be CoastSmart
- Stay warmer and stay afloat with thermal protection, like a wetsuit.
- Learn about the first signs of the effects of cold water.
- Bathing suits are not suitable for cold water activities; even wading.
- Only enter the water with the proper equipment.
- If in trouble in the water, act immediately.
- Set up a buddy check system.
- Consult a tide table, the swell forecast, and the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Wave Hazard Rating before your shoreline activities.
First responders and educators can find more information at
Beyond Cold Water Bootcamp.