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Northeast Ohio is heating up, but Lake Erie temperatures are still dangerous

Posted at 6:07 PM, May 11, 2022

CLEVELAND — Along with the stretch of summerlike weather gracing Northeast Ohio comes a safety reminder for lake-goers. Though temperatures may reach the 80s this week, Lake Erie’s water is still cold enough to cause hypothermia within minutes.

The sunshine and warmth brought scores of Northeast Ohioans out to Edgewater Park Wednesday, some enjoying the beach and fishing pier.

“We hope this weather stays,” said Jessica Morich, a nanny for 4-year-old Eli.

Morich and Eli were dipping their toes into the water at Edgewater Beach and splashing in the cool lake.

“It’s a little chilly for me, but he is never bothered by it,” she said. “He is always happy to be wet no matter the temperature.”

The nanny explained they were working on safety directives and she was keeping a close eye on Eli.

“We’re working on being aware of his surroundings and trying to stay near me. And especially when we’re doing water play, it’s kind of safety 101 when you’re taking children in the water to always be within one arm’s reach,” she said.

Beyond closely supervising children at all times near the water, the U.S. Coast Guard recommends avoiding swimming in the lake for prolonged periods of time this time of year.

“That’s the deceiving part,” said Petty Officer Paul Dragin. “It’s almost summerlike already, prematurely. But the water temperature is still extremely cold.”

He said the most recent readings from the U.S. Coast Guard’s Cleveland station found Lake Erie was around 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures below 70 degrees can pose a risk for hypothermia.

“In under 5 minutes, if a person were to be immersed in the water, they would lose dexterity, start to lose feeling. Death can occur in as little as an hour with these temperatures,” Dragin explained.

He advised limiting swim time until the water warms and said even if you’re not planning to get in the lake, you should wear a personal floatation device (PFD) on boats and jetskis and keep one nearby on the shore.

“If someone happens to fall in, that’s the number one thing that’s going to keep them alive,” he said.

Additionally, he recommends boaters bring rescue beacons, whistles and radios with them onto the lake in case of emergency.

The safety reminders come as the Cleveland Metro Parks Police Department continues investigating an incident at Edgewater Park from Tuesday night.

A 50-year-old man was in critical condition after being pulled from the lake near Edgewater Pier. Witnesses told investigators the man fell into the water while fishing near the lake. The Cleveland Fire Department said a fellow fisherman hooked the man and pulled him out, and several other good Samaritans performed CPR until medics arrived.

It’s unclear how the man ended up in the water.

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