ODNR: Know the dangers beneath the surface


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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Winter is right around the corner and before you know it, temperatures will drop. For those still getting out on Ohio’s lakes and rivers, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is reminding people that cold water will cool a body 25 times faster than cold air of the same temperature.

The water temperature in lakes and rivers is quickly dropping this time of year. Water cooler than the normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees causes heat loss. Nearly 90% of boating fatalities are due to drowning, and nearly half of those are attributed to the effects of immersion in cold water.

“Our outdoor spaces are great in any weather, but there are dangers associated with cold water that could put even the most skilled paddlers and swimmers at risk,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “While we want everyone to enjoy the seasonable weather, we want to make sure everyone is prepared and that starts with wearing a life jacket.”

Wearing a life jacket is as important as wearing a seat belt while driving. A properly 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 victim may hyperventilate and find it difficult to get air into the lungs.

You can learn more about the hazards of cold and high water here.

The cold weather could also affect other outdoor activities like hiking. People can prepare for the colder temperatures by taking the following steps before leaving the house:

Dress appropriately and use layers,

Always check the weather report,

Make sure your phone is charged, and

Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.

ODNR has more advice for staying safe while enjoying the outdoors on our website.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, and conservation of Ohio’s 75 state parks and waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

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