Dive into the Fourth with caution – Cold water brings hypothermia riskAhh. Grab a lemonade, kick your feet up, toss in a line and bake in the sun while bouncing along the water in a boat – it sounds like the perfect Fourth of July holiday. But people may want to think twice before jumping into those tempting, blue waters to cool off this weekend. A leap may have deadly consequences.
By: Wendy Wilson, Alexandria Echo Press
Ahh. Grab a lemonade, kick your feet up, toss in a line and bake in the sun while bouncing along the water in a boat – it sounds like the perfect Fourth of July holiday.
But people may want to think twice before jumping into those tempting, blue waters to cool off this weekend. A leap may have deadly consequences.
“The water temperature isn’t a normal Fourth of July summer water temperature,” said Sergeant Greg Windhurst of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol. “Water temperatures are still cool in the lakes,” especially in deeper lakes like Lake Carlos.
“Even if it’s a warm sunny day, the water is going to cool their body and they may see some hypothermia,” Windhurst warned. A person’s body temperature will rise when sitting in the sun. If the individual jumps into the water, they may risk going into shock because the water is so cold, according to Windhurst.
“[Gasping] is the body’s natural reaction to that,” he said. “If your face is under the water, you could swallow lake water. It could be enough of a shock” to lead to drowning.
Windhurst reminded that boat operator intoxication is illegal and the .08 alcohol concentration limit applies to boats as well as motor vehicles.
“Drink responsibly and pay attention to where [you] are at throughout the day if [you] are going to drink and boat,” he cautioned.
Water patrol deputies are patrolling the lakes and other waterways until Labor Day from sunrise to sunset.
Boats must have life jackets for all passengers. The jackets must be immediately accessible, according to the law. They cannot be stowed in compartments.
“I just would hope they’d have a life jacket on,” Windhurst said.
Children younger than 10 must wear life jackets. Boats 16 feet or longer must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved throwable flotation device, like a buoyant seat cushion.
Keep an eye out for no wake zones and speed restrictions.
If participating in a boat parade, Windhurst recommended using common sense: Follow the line and don’t speed.
“The boat parades are not sanctioned by the sheriff’s office,” Windhurst reminded.
High water levels may be found in some of the channels between lakes.
“Be careful,” Windhurst said. “[People] know what the height of their boat is and if they’re coming up to [a channel] they should be able to tell if they can get through.”
Additional water patrols will be patrolling the lakes this weekend.
“Pay attention to the other boats in the water, other people swimming in the lake, and other activities going on about you,” Windhurst said. “It might be busy out there.”
He also reminded people not to litter and to be courteous and kind to others.
More information see www.co.douglas.mn.us/Sheriff/Water_Patrol.htm. For Minnesota boating laws see files.dnr.state.mn.us/rlp/regulations/boatwater/boatingguide.pdf.