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Couple’s summer hypothermia death is a tragic lesson for us all

If you decide to vacation on the coast, chances are high that you’ll take a boat out on the water at least once. However, if you do, be very careful — no matter how calm the conditions might be — or you may end up in a life-threatening situation.

Case in point, Roy and Judith Carlile from Warrington, Pennsylvania. The married couple in their mid to late 50s were up in Maine for the summer and decided to take a canoe out on Chandler Bay. According to their neighbor Jolene Harmon, this was a pastime the couple enjoyed regularly, but she often felt like they ventured out too far in their little, 13-foot canoe. They set out sometime on Friday in clear, calm conditions, and never returned. Roy’s body was found Saturday morning, and Judith’s was recovered early Sunday morning.

Both are believed to have succumbed to hypothermia from the cold, Maine waters. Despite the weather being a comfortable 75 degrees, the water temperatures can get down to the low 50s at night. If you capsize and get stranded, that’s the easiest way to lose your life.

That being said, both Roy and Judith were found wearing life preservers, so it remains unclear how they got trapped away from the shore. Officials plan to do an autopsy to discover if hypothermia was not the actual cause of death.

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The fact that this happened in such calm waters and weather just goes to show that you can never be too careful when you’re taking a boat excursion. While wearing a life vest is crucial, there are several other things you should do to make sure you’ll be safe, or found if something unexpected happens.

Hypothermia prevention tips

  • You should always bring some nonperishable food, in case you get stranded somewhere for a long period of time. Don’t forget clean water!
  • Have extra layers either on or with you, no matter how warm it is outside. It could be the thing that saves you from hypothermia.
  • A hat can prevent heat from escaping from your head, neck and face.
  • Bring a phone and radio in case cell reception is weak.
  • Make sure the life vests you bring have location transmitters on them. The newer ones usually do. They’re activated once they hit the water.
  • If you suspect hypothermia is setting in, try to get to a dry place and take off any wet clothing. If you can’t get to a dry place, but you’re with another person, hold on to each other for warmth.
  • Always, always, always tell someone when you’re planning to take a boat out, and when you plan to return. That way, if you don’t, you’ll have someone on dry land who will be concerned, and alert the authorities to start looking for you.

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