With cold lake temperatures comes risk of hypothermia

10:22 PM, Apr 5, 2013   |    comments
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East Tennessee will see temperatures hovering near 70 degrees this weekend, but that will still not heat up the cold lake water in time.

With an increase in boaters hitting the waterways this weekend, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be watching out for the risk of hypothermia.

The condition is triggered by below normal body temperatures shutting down its functions.

"Up in the mountains in particular, you still have snow on some of the high peaks, and that snow is melting on these warm days. All that's coming downstream," explained officer Matt Cameron.

Already, people thrown overboard this week on Douglas Lake has lead to the risk of this potentially deadly condition. Cameron said one case involving an elderly man almost proved fatal.

"He's in the water for 20 minutes. By the time they got him to the ambulance and took his temperature. His core body temperature is 92 degrees," Cameron recalled.

Experts warm it can take up to an hour in water between 50 and 60 degrees to develop full hypothermia, if left untreated. Cameron stressed some of the effects can be felt in as little as 10 minutes.

"You have about one minute to control your breathing. 10 to 20 minutes of meaningful movement, before your extremities shut down," said Cameron.

TWRA has not reported on any hypothermia cases in East Tennessee this weekend in connection with boats. Cameron said if you do accidentally fall in the water, get out as quickly as possible.

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