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Don’t be fooled by summer heat: Iowa’s waters are still dangerously cold

  • 6/1/2023 3:56:00 PM
  • View Count 1997
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Summer heat entices many to plunge into local lakes to cool off. Air temperatures may soar into the 90s this weekend but water temperatures are much cooler, especially below the surface. 

It’s hard to imagine freezing when it’s hot outside, but cold water (below 70 degrees) reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air does at the same temperature. No one is safe from the effects of cold water  – even the strongest of swimmers. Once your body is submerged in the cold water, your initial instinct is to survive. Within the first three to five minutes, your breathing becomes involuntarily uncontrollable. You begin gasping for air, hyperventilation starts, and panic sets in. You start to inhale water; it only takes half a cup of water for somebody to drown.

Water is refreshing and fun, but it’s essential to know how to stay safe in and around water to prevent accidental drownings. Drowning is swift and silent — there may be little splashing or cries for help. 

Follow these tips and precautions to keep you and your friends and family safe while having fun on the water this summer.

  • Always wear a life jacket.
  • Don’t dive in. Ease into the water slowly.
  • Never swim alone.
  • Know the early symptoms of hypothermia, including shivering, blue lips, slurred speech or mumbling, drowsiness or very low energy or confusion.
  • Keep a close eye on others, especially children. Always assign a designated adult to watch over children, and never assume someone else is watching them.
  • Take a water bottle with you and keep it nearby throughout the day. It's easy to get dehydrated in the sun, particularly if you're active and sweating. Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration. Early signs of dehydration can include dizziness, feeling lightheaded or nausea.

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