Warm air and too-cold waters: Vermonters urged to take caution as temperatures soar

James Streeter, 14 of Richmond, jumps into the Winooski River from the red bridge in Richmond on Thursday, May 12. The sudden change in temperature in Vermont increases the risk of heat-related illness, according to the National Weather Service. It also warned that waters are too cold for recreating, which risks hypothermia. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

This weekend’s warm weather may be a relief to Vermonters after a long winter, but the National Weather Service in Burlington is urging caution. 

The sudden change in temperature increases the risk of heat-related illness, the weather service said in a press release this week.

It also warned of hypothermia, as people venture into rivers and lakes that remain very cold. 

Temperatures were forecast to hit 91 degrees in Burlington on Friday and 87 degrees in Brattleboro, according to the National Weather Service. A wide range of the state was expected to stay in the 80s through the weekend. 

At risk of heat stroke are people who “work or exercise outdoors, older adults and young children, people who are obese or have a chronic medical condition, people taking certain medications, and people using drugs or alcohol,” the press release said. 

Symptoms of heat stroke, which can be deadly, include weakness, heavy sweating, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. 

To prevent heat stroke, the National Weather Service recommends drinking water and non-alcoholic beverages, taking breaks in the shade or indoors while working outdoors and never leaving young children, older adults or pets alone in cars. 

Weather experts also warn against swimming in the state’s waters because of risks of cold shock and hypothermia. Hypothermia can occur within minutes in water temperatures below 50, and Lake Champlain and other bodies of water are currently in the 40s, according to the press release.

Those waters don’t typically surpass 50 degrees until mid-June, according to the release.

Kayaking, canoeing and boating also carry risks of hypothermia. The National Weather Service is encouraging boaters to postpone going out onto the water, or else wearing a dry suit to conserve body heat. It also advises that people wear personal flotation devices along with other protective gear. 

People cool off at the Bolton Potholes in Bolton on Thursday, May 12. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

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