Ohio's Waters Still Cold Even as Air Temperature Increases
April 15, 2016 - 11:36 AM
- The first days of spring are attracting boaters and other
recreational enthusiasts to their favorite Ohio waters. However, Ohioans
should remember that even though the air temperature is getting warmer,
the water temperature is still cold. Dressing for the water temperature
and wearing a life jacket is extremely important.
people enter cold water, hypothermia rapidly sets in, causing them to
lose the use of the muscles in their arm and legs,” said Mike Miller,
chief of the ODNR Division of Watercraft. “That’s why it is imperative
that boaters wear a life jacket before heading out on the water; life
jackets are a critical part of making sure that you and your family are
safe while boating or paddling.”
temperatures are slower to respond to the change of seasons. Lake
Erie’s water temperature is still approximately 40 degrees, and water
temperatures in Ohio’s inland lakes and rivers are also very cold. It is
recommended that boaters dress for the water temperature, not the
weather, and consider wearing a dry suit or other hypothermia protective
clothing when planning to be near cold water. Cold water reduces body
heat up to 25 times faster than cold air.
the water temperature is less than 50 degrees, the window of
opportunity for rescue is only a few minutes if the person is not
dressed for the water conditions. Information on how to dress for the
water temperature is available at bit.ly/DressforCold.
90 percent of boating fatalities are due to drowning and nearly half of
those are attributed to the effects of immersion in cold water. Total
immersion in cold water is very painful, with extremities rapidly
becoming numb. The disoriented victim can quickly panic as they lose
coordination of their limbs. With these combined reactions, the victim
may drown quickly.
into cold water triggers the body's cold water immersion responses,
beginning with an uncontrollable gasping reflex. The victim may
hyperventilate and find it difficult to get air into his or her lungs. A
well-fitted life jacket will keep a person’s airway out of the
water--which is most important when the gasping reflex begins. Heart
rate and blood pressure increase dramatically, increasing the risk for
cardiac arrest. The best prevention for this danger is to wear a life
jacket. Wearing a life jacket while boating is as important as wearing a
seat belt while in a car.
Ohio law requires life jackets to be worn:
•While riding a personal watercraft;
•While waterskiing or being towed on a similar device;
•For children less than 10 years of age on any vessel less than 18 feet in length.
It is particularly important to wear a life jacket in the following situations:
•When the boater cannot swim or is a weak swimmer;
•When the water is dangerously cold (the months of October through May in Ohio);
•When boating alone;
•During rough water/waves and severe weather conditions;
•When boating at night;
•In emergency situations; and
•In swift and fast current situations.
addition to dressing for the water temperature and wearing a life
jacket, boaters and paddlers should always file a float plan to ensure
that family members and friends know when they will be expected back. A
sample float plan is available at bit.ly/FileFloatPlan.
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