(COLUMBUS)- The long and cold winter made for some great ice fishing in Ohio, but it's also leading to some dangerously cold water as air temperatures rise.
Lake Erie’s water temperature is around 40 degrees, and water temperatures in Ohio’s inland lakes and rivers are also cold. In 40-degree water, even the best swimmers will experience complete exhaustion in 15 minutes.
"Make sure that you're wearing your life jacket and make sure that you're dressing for the water temperature as opposed to the air temperature," said Eileen Corson with the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources.
She points out that in cold water it can be very difficult to locate, put on, and buckle a life jacket in the water.
Filing a float plan and making sure friends and family know where you are boating and when you are expected back is also very important.
Nearly 90 percent of boating fatalities are due to drowning and nearly half of those are attributed to the effects of immersion in cold water. Cold water will cool a body 25 times faster than cold air of the same temperature.
"Certainly as we move farther into July the water temperatures will be warming up," said Corson.
The state is home not only to boating hotspots of Lake Erie and the Ohio river, but 600 inland lakes and 60,000 miles of rivers, streams and waterways.
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