abc
QUICK LINKS:

Special Report: Hypothermia Year-round Threat in Lake Superior


By: Justin Liles

Lake Superior is know for its beautiful water, rocky shores, sandy beaches, and clean, cool water. But cooling off from the summer heat can be dangerous.

"Since 2006 there have been three deaths in the Apostle Islands caused by hypothermia," according to former kayak instructor and park ranger, Ana Pratt.

Pratt knows these waters and knows just how cold it can be.

"Lake Superior temperatures are 39 degrees all year round... only the surface temps are changing."

Capitan Brent Consie of the Duluth Fire Department says one of the things about hypothermia is that people can be lulled into a false sense of security in the summertime.

But hypothermia is a condition that can happen 12 months out of year in Duluth.

"Statistics would show that a person in 50-degree water would begin to go unconscious in 1 to 1.5 hours, and their survival time is about 2-3 hours after that," according to Consie.

Water extracts heat from the body 25 times faster then air. That's something Pratt found out quickly while snorkeling in Lake Superior two weeks ago.

"After 40 minutes I had pretty much lost feeling in my arms and hands. At one point, I was barely able to get my fins off and had to climb up onto and sun heated rock and couldn't move," she said.

Rescue workers from the Duluth Fire Department train for such instances when a person becomes helpless in water. 

If you find yourself in the water with your life jacket on assume the position known as HELP: Heat Escape Lessening Posture. The technique, involving putting your arms across your torso and pulling your legs towards your chest, keeps the heat from leaving your body as quickly. 

"Hypothermia starts, you obviously start shivering uncontrollably, your body temperature goes down from 98 to 93 degrees and you may find you can't count back words from 10," according to Consie.

Both Pratt and Consie say wearing a life jacket is key.

It's also important to wear layers like a wicking layer near your skin, followed by fleece and then something to block the wind. Wearing anything cotton is strongly discouraged.

Front Page

  • Justin's 2014-2015 Winter Prediction

    Winter is right around the corner and the question on everybody's mind is will we have a winter like last year.  With record stretches of cold and record snowfall last year is one we one like to forget. Chief meteorologist Justin Liles lets us know what we can expect this year

  • Woman in Douglas Co. Shootout was found Unresponsive in House Fire Day Before

    A 22-year-old Lake Nebagamon woman was hospitalized on Wednesday evening after an armed standoff with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. On Tuesday, authorities say that same woman was found by her neighbors unresponsive and not breathing after they saw flames coming from a downtown Lake Nebagamon home. 

  • Funding for Military Funeral Personnel Restored

    On Thursday, Rep. Rick Nolan received a letter from the Secretary of the Army that funding for the playing of "Taps," a rifle salute, and delivering a folded American flag will be restored.

  • Preparing for Ebola: Health System Working Together

    People who work in the Northland's health system are communicating on a regular basis, to prepare for Ebola, even though it's unlikely to appear here.

  • St. Luke's Honored by American Heart Association

    St. Luke's received three honors from the American Heart Association on Thursday, for their approach and teamwork when taking care of heart and stroke patients.

 

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

WI AREAS AFFECTED: Ashland; Iron
Expires: 10/31/2014 1:00 PM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

MI AREAS AFFECTED: Houghton; Keweenaw; Ontonagon; Southern Houghton
Expires: 10/31/2014 12:00 PM

Lake Effect Snow Advisory

MI AREAS AFFECTED: Gogebic
Expires: 10/31/2014 2:00 PM

Lakeshore Flood Advisory

MI AREAS AFFECTED: Alger; Baraga; Gogebic; Houghton; Keweenaw; Marquette; Ontonagon
Expires: 10/31/2014 2:00 PM

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement