Two rescues during the week prompted reminders about the dangers of cold water despite recent sunny skies and warm temperatures.

Saturday's forecast of sunny skies and an above normal temperatures around 70 will bring people to the beach and some will venture into the ocean.  But getting into trouble while ocean temperatures are still around 40 degrees can quickly incapacitate a person and have potentially deadly results.

The New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol and the Portsmouth Fire Department on Friday morning rescued a 72-year-old man they found clinging to rocks after his kayak flipped of off Fort Point in New Castle.He did not bring a personal flotation device with him on for his morning on the water and was taken to Portsmouth Regional Hospital.

Wednesday night the Coast Guard helped an individual whose jet ski quit off Hampton Beach around 7:45 p.m. A 29-foot response boat from Station Merrimack River and the Hampton Fire Department placed the jet ski in tow and rescued the operator before bringing them to Coast Guard Station Portsmouth Harbor RB-S crew, who returned both safely to their point of origin.

"This case could have deteriorated as temperatures fell through the evening if not for a tremendous response from Coast Guard and Hampton Fire crews," Cmdr. Mark Neeland, deputy sector commander of Coast Guard Sector Northern New England said.

The cold can make it hard for kayakers, stand-up paddle boarders, surfers and boaters to signal for help. The National Weather Service says being immersed  in water below 50 degrees  causes cold shock and an immediate loss of breathing control.

"This dramatically increases the risk of sudden drowning even if the water is calm and you know how to swim. The danger is even greater if the water is rough. Immersion in cold water is immediately life-threatening for anyone not wearing thermal protection, like a wetsuit or drysuit, and not wearing a life jacket," according to the NWS.

Cold water advice from the Coast Guard includes:

  • Review safety gear prior to departure by ensuring lifejackets, navigation equipment, radio and fire extinguishers are functioning and know how to use them in an emergency.
  • Dress Appropriately. Wear a lifejacket, drysuit, or wetsuit.
  • File a float plan by telling a responsible person ashore where you are going, for how long and where/when you plan to return.

Temperatures will be closer to normal Sunday and into the new week with is also Northeast Cold Water Awareness Week with more advice about being prepared for cold water.

Cold water safety message from the US Coast Guard
Cold water safety message from the US Coast Guard (USGC)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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