(ANNAPOLIS, MD) -- The organizing team of the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics is reminding all those participating in or visiting the event tomorrow that their safety is a top priority and it is vital to heed safety precautions.

Conditions for tomorrow's 18th annual Plunge are not the coldest they have been, but the medical support team, headed by the Johns Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine, is advising those participating and visiting to use common sense and adhere to safety tips. All persons attending the Plunge are reminded to dress warmly and stay warm until it is time to take their quick dip into the Bay. The Plunge announcer will be instructing participants to change into swim attire in the heated changing tents no sooner than 15 minutes before the 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. plunges. Plungers should keep skin exposure to a minimum. Some show up at the venue in their swim attire in the morning. This is NOT recommended, due to the cold temperatures and wind expected tomorrow.

In addition to dressing warmly, everyone is encouraged to visit one of the many heated tents throughout the venue that will be open and warm all day. These include the Carnival Funfest tent, the Rams Head Ice Lodge, the 98 Rock Hot Spot, and the Astro Family Fun Zone.

Other components of the Plunge medical team include professionals from the Anne Arundel County Fire Department and Maryland State Police tactical medics, as well as personnel from several volunteer fire companies. Medical teams will be roving throughout the venue to assist anyone in need of medical attention and will be on the lookout for persons not heeding our advice to stay covered and warm. A red and white striped medical tent will also be staffed with professionals and is located at the entrance to the event venue.

Other advice for plungers includes making sure shoes are worn for the plunge. Old athletic shoes are the best. Flip flops are not recommended.

There is no requirement regarding how 'wet' you get when you plunge. It is fine if you only get your ankles wet. No one is measuring how far you go in. If you have signed up, but would prefer not to plunge, that is fine too. If you have raised the minimum of $75, you will get your plunge sweatshirt and know you have supported a very worthwhile cause, whether or not you plunged.

The Plunge team is recommending that no one go all the way under. One absolute is that there should be NO DIVING! The water is much too shallow and any type of headfirst dive could be very dangerous.

There is snow throughout the Plunge venue. Those attending are urged to use caution and refrain from running.

The medical team is also reminding participants that cold weather and alcohol do not mix well. Alcohol is prohibited in the venue except at three specific locations. Officials will be verifying IDs and monitoring individuals to attempt to ensure excessive alcohol use does not occur. Police will be patrolling all areas of the venue and issuing citations or making arrests for alcohol use and or disorderly conduct.

Persons who think they may need medical attention are urged to visit the medical tent, or to contact any of the dozens of state troopers, police officers, or security personnel who will be in uniform and patrolling throughout the venue. Each will have communication with the State Police Command Post, which will dispatch assistance immediately.

Additional tips and advice can be found by visiting the Plunge website at Pledges can still be made to sponsor plungers registered on the website.


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