Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hooky Handicapped by Hypothermia

Or, Beach Day in May in the Northeast has its Risks.
Today, it reached 93°F.  We simply had to go to the beach. (I make it a point to jump into the ocean at least once a year and to get it done before the beaches get mobbed is a great opportunity!) Sadly, this extreme air condition did not instantly charge the ocean water to a warm 80°, or even an acceptable 70°.  Today, according to surf-forecast.com, the surface temperature of the ocean where we were was about 53°F.  

[From Wikipedia] Heat is lost more quickly in water. Water temperatures that would be quite reasonable as outdoor air temperatures can lead to hypothermia. Water temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) often lead to death in one hour, and water temperatures hovering at freezing can lead to death in as little as 15 minutes. Water at a temperature of 26 °C (79 °F) may after prolonged exposure lead to hypothermia.
The enormous thermal capacitance of the ocean made quick work of the impossibly slight thermal mass of my youngest.  Thus, after quick dips and some valiant attempts at riding the waves back into shore, my kids surveyed the ocean from the warmth of the beach, while I captured their odd fascination. It was as if the ocean betrayed them. 

Frankly, the ocean water was much warmer than I thought it would be; I could still feel my feet when I slogged myself out of it.

No comments: