Even as cooler nights lead to falling water temperatures across the state, the days can still be perfect for paddling and boating on Ohio’s lakes, rivers and streams. In an effort to reduce late season boating accidents from exposure to cold water, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is prompting boaters statewide to enjoy fall color while boating, but to be aware of the dangers associated with cold water and to always wear a life jacket when on the water.
"Properly loading your boat, dressing for the air and water temperature and wearing a life jacket are especially important in the late fall when waters are very cold," said Mike Miller, chief of the ODNR Division of Watercraft.
Late season boaters and anglers tend to dress according to air temperatures, but it can be easy to forget that water temperatures in Ohio's lakes and streams may have dropped due to cooler fall nights.
"It's important to be aware of the risks associated with boating this time of year and the necessity of being prepared should something go wrong while you’re on the water," said Miller. Information regarding boating safety and tips for avoiding hypothermia are available at watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/safetytips.
More than one-third of Ohio’s boating-related fatalities from 2010-2014 resulted from people falling overboard and boats capsizing or swamping. Operation Overboard is a statewide boating safety campaign that emphasizes the dangers associated with overloaded and improperly loaded boats that can become swamped and capsize in frigid waters. It also reminds boaters to always properly wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket when on the water.
Ohio boaters are encouraged to get outside and take advantage of the beauty of this season. The brilliance of fall color adds to the enjoyment of boating. Powerboating and paddling provide excellent opportunities for people to take in the wonderful colors of fall from a unique viewpoint from their boats.
The ODNR Division of Watercraft is responsible for boating safety, education and law enforcement on all waters of the state. This statewide area includes the nearshore area along 451 miles of the Ohio River, approximately half the entire surface area of Lake Erie, more than 605 inland lakes and more than 60,000 miles of inland streams, rivers and other waterways.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.