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Ways to stay safe as lake season gets underway

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With summer-like temperatures in April, the lakes in our region were busy this weekend.

But, officials say the water temperatures may not be rising as quickly as the air temperatures.

A worker with the Kingsport Life Saving crew says people need to be careful at all times of the year on the lake.

While the water may be warm on the surface,around 80 degrees, as you get deeper, the temperature can drop to the 50's or 60's.

"When you're in the lake water, even if it feels comfortable it could be 70, 80 degrees. But your body temperature being 98.6, 80 degree water is going to pull the heat out of your body," Jerry Fleenor said.

He said being in water cooler than your body temperature could lead to cramping, which can make swimming dangerous.

"Tme is an issue. Don't stay in the water until you start feeling the cramps because sometime you'll be too far away from shore that you won't be able to get back in time," he said. Paying attention to your body isn't the only thing you should do to stay safe. You also need to have the proper equipment on board with you. "Its prevention. Be prepared. have items nearby that can help you if you get in trouble," Fleenor said. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, all boats must have one personal flotation device for each person on board. Fleenor said to have life jackets, floats, and a throw rope, so someone could drag you back if you get into trouble. Local hospitals see a spike in emergency room visits during the summer months.

"The most common cause of accidents that we see now in emergency rooms is drowning related," Dr. Rohini Nathan at Holston Valley Medical Center said. She said being aware and prepared in the water could help save your life. "Within the first minute they already start feeling the coldness and the chilliness of the water. And by about 30 minutes, is all people can tolerate and they start showing signs of hypothermia," she said.

Another tip Dr. Nathan suggests is to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated.

She suggests drinking something with electrolytes to prevent dehydration.

She said someone will start showing symptoms of heat exhaustion within a few hours of being in the sun, if proper precautions aren't being taken.

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