Unseasonably warm weather during the first half of November means many lakes and ponds remain free of ice, but the water is dangerously cold. With children home for Thanksgiving break, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges parents and guardians to talk with kids about the risks of cold water.
Falls into open water this time of year can turn tragic quickly, and the effects of cold water mean even strong swimmers likely will find it difficult to save themselves from an unexpected fall. Parents and guardians need to be especially vigilant about watching kids and ensuring their innate curiosity about the water doesn’t put them at risk.
Capt. Adam Block, boating law administrator with the DNR Enforcement Division, says kids – or people new to Minnesota – might not understand the difference in how their bodies react to cold water vs. warm water. He urges parents and guardians to talk with their children and neighbors about staying away from lakes, ponds and rivers this time of year unless there’s an adult supervising.
The best way to stay safe around cold water is to wear a life jacket (foam is better than an inflatable in cold water). Block also recommends people carry a phone or other communications device to call for help, to let others know where they’re going and when they plan to return, and to be prepared to deal with an unforeseen incident.
For more information about surviving a fall into cold water, see the cold water dangers webpage.