MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Winter is slowly on its way, and officials are already warning residents about the dangers of falling into cold water during winter activities.
The Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Office warns that even the strongest swimmers should be cautious when navigating frozen waters.
“Once you start to hit water that gets to be near that freezing point, or that extremely cold water, even someone who is an experienced or a very good swimmer is going to be overtaken by that temperature of the water," said Captain Paul Barta.
Barta recommended checking local resources that would know the ice conditions.
“One great thing to do is check with the local bait shops. People are generally going to them if they want to venture out onto the ice for early ice fishing and things like that. And those bait shops keep pretty good tabs on what the ice conditions are," he said.
He also recommended carrying ice picks that can be used to pull yourself up and a stake that can be used to poke ahead and determine if ice will be sufficient to hold you as you walk out.
Robert Iong, a hospitalist at River’s Edge Hospital, said the body will start shivering and will react quickly to try and raise body temperature if someone falls into frozen water.
He said someone might also lose control of their muscles.
“Hypothermia comes, symptoms come in stages. In the very beginning, it’s loss of function and sensation in the extremities, probably in your fingers first, toes first. And then it gets more and more proximal towards the center of the body," he said.
After 15 minutes, someone might start to show symptoms of confusion.
Iong said if someone loses consciousness, they most likely won’t survive for very long, but if they are able to call for help, get themselves out, get into a warm room and seek medical help if necessary, and then they should be okay.
Barta encouraged residents to make sure somebody knows where they are if they go out onto ice or water.
“Buddy system is a great way to do it so you’ve got somebody else who is along. If something happens to one person, there’s another person available to call for help," he said.