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Cool Spring Brings Outdoor Swimming Hazards

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – That incoming warmth may be enough to get some of you into the water this weekend. You may think you know the ABCs of water safety. But with this year’s unusually frigid water temps, the rules are a bit different.

As of late, if you want to swim comfortably, an indoor pool is necessary. Well into June, it was a full house at Water Park of America on Friday.

The water at the indoor park near Mall of America is around 85 degrees. The water in the St. Croix River is about 20 degrees cooler.

Kara Owens, of the DNR, focuses on drowning prevention. She says the weather has made it so that no one wants to be outside.

The good news, however, is that boating deaths are down, only one so far this year. Last year, there’d been four at this time. But low water temps,  are still a danger.

“A lot of people don’t realize when they quickly jump in that lake or river, they may not be anticipating that cold water, and it can cause them a lot of problems,” Owens said.

For instance, gasping for air and inhaling water can cause cardiac arrest, and then there’s the threat of hypothermia.

“If you do have a life jacket on and you do jump in, or even fall in, cold water, that life jacket will keep you afloat, which will increase your survival time. And, a lot of people don’t realize this, a life jacket will actually keep you warm, because of the insulation in it,” Owens said.

While there are likely fewer people in the water overall this spring, the rules are still important to follow for people that aren’t letting the weather stop them.

Also, modern day drowning hazards are laptops and cell phones, Owens said. Poolside parents are often using them with one eye, and watching their little swimmers with the other.

Something else has gotten a lot of talk this week: drownings. Owens says drownings can be hard to spot. Generally, those drowning aren’t screaming or waving. They are under water and don’t make much noise.

Here are more on hypothermia and children’s life jacket safety.

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