When it comes to cooling off on a hot day, diving into the lake is the obvious choice. But water temperature can be deceiving and it's best to think twice before you swim.
Stacey Kellough, a marine unit officer with Toronto Police says many people don't realize how cold the lake can be -- even on a sizzling hot day.
“At the beach or in shallow waters it can be about 75 degrees. But as soon as you get on a boat and get further out, the water can drop about 10 to 12 degrees,” she warns.
Wearing a life jacket is essential. You're likely to survive the third stage of hypothermia if you're suited up.
“If you don't have a life jacket on, you won't be able to hold yourself above the water. If you are wearing one, you'll be able to last about an hour in the freezing temperatures.”
According to the Alaska Office of Boating Safety, unprepared boaters aren't likely to make it past the first stage of cold water immersion.
Kellough says if you fall into cold water, stage one includes panic. “As soon as you hit the water, you're going to panic because you're not used to the temperature.”
There's also a chance you'll take in a deep breath, inhaling a large amount of water in the process.
Kellough says if you can get through the first minute of the panic state, you'll usually have 10 minutes of body activity before hypothermia sets in. This means your muscles are in working order and you can try and swim to safety.
As hypothermia sets in, the body concentrates more energy on warming vital organs. The resulting loss of muscle control can quickly turn a strong swimmer into a weak, tired swimmer.
This is why it's essential to swim with a buddy at all times. And for those less-confident swimmers, a personal flotation device can be handy for added comfort.
Cold water immersion follows four distinct stages. They are:
With files from Alexandra Pope and Alaska Office of Boating Safety