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Lake temperatures remain dangerously cold

A frigid winter and late spring have left Lake Huron water temperatures so dangerously cold that even short-term, cold-water immersion could take more than your breath away.

Lambton Public Health's Let's Wear It Lambton campaign reminds boaters to include and to wear a comfortable, fitting lifejacket/personal flotation device as part of their boating plan to reduce the risk of drowning, especially in cold water.

"An unexpected, cold-water immersion can lead to strong bodily responses that severely impair a person's ability to locate, put on, and fasten a personal flotation device in the water," said Lisa Clark, a health promoter with Lambton Public Health.

"It's important to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) anytime you're on the water. It can save your life."

According to the Canadian Safe Boating Council, people immersed in water below 15 degrees Celsius will immediately experience breathing difficulties and difficulty to swim.

Even good swimmers are often unable to swim distances of even two to three metres in cold water.

In 2013, OPP investigations of 23 boating deaths found 20 boaters were not wearing PFDs. The Canadian Drowning Report (Lifesaving Society Canada) says 45% of boating drowning deaths occur in cold water.

“This is a totally senseless outcome that is avoidable by simply wearing a PFD," said Sgt. Tim Ives, of the Lambton County OPP Marine Unit.

"People need to understand it’s not the fine that matters, but the life it will save.”

In cold water, a PFD allows you to float and keep your head out of the water without using energy, and protects part of your body from the cold water. Also consider a flotation coat or deck-suit style PFD, which covers more of your body and offers more protection.

For information about boating, lifejackets/PFDs, and upcoming Water Wise events, visit and follow links under Prevent Injuries, or call 519-344-2062 ext. 2129 or toll-free 1-800-387-2882.

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