Is the Polar Plunge safe?

Is the Polar Plunge safe?

Vince Vaughn and non-celebrities alike who are planning to take the “Polar Plunge” into Lake Michigan this Sunday should take precautions to avoid hypothermia and other health issues that might arise when they shock their bodies by diving into sub-freezing water, experts say.

“Get out of the water as quickly as possible and change into dry clothes immediately to bring your body temperature back up to a normal range,” says Dr. Dipul Patadia, an emergency department physician at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill.

“If you’re basically a healthy person, you’re likely to be just fine,” Patadia adds. “It’s the very young, the very old and those with heart problems, compromised immune systems or other health issues who should avoid jumping in Lake Michigan in the dead of winter.”

Hypothermia occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system and other organs can’t work normally, which can result in a heart attack, respiratory system failure and even death.

Vaughn, a Lake Forest native whose upcoming comedy “Unfinished Business” hits theaters March 6, agreed to take part in this weekend’s Polar Plunge in response to the #Vinnydippin social media campaign. The event is the largest annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Chicago. Last year, when the event drew national attention after “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon accepted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s challenge to participate, the event raised more than $1 million for the nonprofit.

“I’m so excited to help cheer on the amazing athletes of Special Olympics,” Vaughn said in a statement. “Their courage and dedication inspired me to take the Polar Plunge into the freezing waters of Chicago.”

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  1. A great cause but I never understood why people would jump into water that cold.

  2. I did it once, when I was 15 years old. I obviously lived through it because I’m now 73. But no matter how great the cause I never did it again. In fact, I haven’t been swimming in Lake Michigan at all since I was 20 years old, when I could still withstand how cold the water was even at the peak of the hottest summers.

  3. Robert Horwitz March 1, 2015 at 10:43 am · Reply

    Let’s see if we can raise even more money if Emanuel will jump in the water and stay there for at least fifteen minutes.

About the Author

Lisa Parro
Lisa Parro

Lisa Parro, health enews contributor, is manager of content strategy for Advocate Aurora Health. A former journalist, Lisa has been in health care public relations since 2008 and has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She and her family live in Chicago’s western suburbs.