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

  • A meter at the Otis residence in the Woodland neighborhood lit up for the first time in a week Wednesday evening. Lights On: Most Northlanders See Power Return

    The last few folks still waiting on power are beginning to see their lights turn on. A Rice Lake and Woodland family were grateful to see line crews pulling into their driveways Wednesday evening so they can unplug the generators and flip on the light switches. 

  • Special Report: Escape

    Forget about grabbing dinner with your friends and family this evening; how about spending the night breaking out of a locked room. It's an immersive adventure game known as an "escape room."

  • Essentia Health Nurses Picket Over Contract Negotiations

      As contract negotiations with Essentia Health stalled, on Wednesday afternoon, about 600 nurses and supporters took their frustrations over a lack of progress outside hospital walls. Holding signs, chanting and waving to cars honking support as they passed by, nurses marched outside St. Mary's Medical Center entrances all afternoon.  

  • Advice for Homeowners about Tree Removal Companies and Pricing

    Duluth Police are warning that some companies are quoting highly inflated prices for tree removal. We have advice from a trusted source.

  • UMD Researchers Collect Data to Assess Wetland Health

    The St. Louis River Estuary is one of the most invaded places in our great lakes and Wednesday morning, it was grounds for research for UMD's Natural Resource Research Institute.

 
Advertisement