Winter has arrived and brought seasonal cold temperatures with it. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Parks and Watercraft reminds visitors to prioritize their preparation and awareness to safely enjoy Ohio’s lakes and rivers throughout the chilly season.
“While our outdoor spaces are great year-round, we want to make sure everyone is prepared for the dangers associated with cold water, and that starts with wearing a life jacket,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “By remembering key steps and tips, your winter water adventures can be safer and enjoyable.”
Water temperatures will continue to drop as the weather becomes cooler. Water cooler than the normal body temperature of 98.6 degrees causes heat loss. In fact, cold water will cool a body 25 times faster than cold air of the same temperature. Nearly 90 percent of boating fatalities occur due to drowning, and almost half of those are caused by immersion in cold water.
“Our state parks are beautiful in the winter, but it’s important to stay safe,” ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft Chief Glen Cobb said. “When you’re out on the water, remember to bundle up, stay aware of the risks of hypothermia, and always wear a life jacket.”
Wearing a life jacket while on the water is as important as wearing a seatbelt while driving. When properly fitted, a life jacket will keep a person’s airway out of the water in the event of an emergency. In addition, dressing appropriately with layers will help keep you warm. Creating a float plan and letting someone know where you are going and when you will return should also be implemented.
Additional advice for staying safe while enjoying the outdoors can be found at www.ohiodnr.gov/go-and-do/family-friendly/winter-activities/winter-recreation-safety.