MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) — As people prepare to hit the ice for fishing, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City has some reminders about how to stay safe.
Public Affairs Officer Brandon Skelly says you can develop hypothermia even in water you think is OK. With prolonged exposure, hypothermia is possible at temperatures as warm as 77 degrees.
Once you enter the water, every minute matters.
“You’ve got one minute when you’re going to start hyperventilating. When that cold water hits you, you’ve got about one minute to control your breathing,” Skelly said. “Ten minutes of useful time of muscle movement, you know, trying to get out depending on what kind of equipment you brought with you. Depending on the water temperature and the wind chill, about 60 minutes until potential unconsciousness.”
If you are in a situation where hypothermia may set in, Skelly said you should get to shelter, get the wet clothes off, dry your body and get to a medical center as soon as possible.
“What you wouldn’t want to do is apply any ice to any kind of broken bones, you don’t want to apply ice and get that core temperature back down. You wouldn’t want to drink any alcohol or anything like that because it can be detrimental. You don’t want to apply a heat source directly to the skin,” Skelly said.
Skelly said not to dress for the temperature outside, but rather, for the lake temperatures.
“If you start to see that temperature drop or you see it’s forecast to drop and any sort of high wind situation, you’re going to want to really evaluate if this is something you want to do,” he said. “Even with protective clothing on and you’re not wet, once you get into those low-temp, high-wind situations, your body temperature can drop pretty fast. You become tired easier.”