Coast Guard warns of cold water in Michigan lakes

Weather may be warm, but water is still dangerously cold

LAKE ST. CLAIR - It was a beautiful day out on the lake, but don't let it fool you.

Venturing out on the Great Lakes can be dangerous, especially this time of the year.

"It's really deceiving because it is so warm out and the water temperature is still pretty low and hypothermia can set on pretty quickly," said Brad Belisle, of the U.S. Coast Guard. "I think right now we're at a water temperature of about 57."

After suiting up in gear that protects against hypothermia, the U.S. Coast Guard took us for a ride on Lake St. Clair.

It was about 80 degrees. It was a choppy ride. The waves were high and the water is cold. The Coast Guard says if someone went overboard unprotected it wouldn't take long for hypothermia to set in.

"If you're separated from your boat even with a life preserver on, you may be floating, but hypothermia is going to set in over time and you may not survive," said Local 4's Dr. Frank McGeorge.

It's days like this when the Coast Guard will stop boaters just to make sure they have the proper lifesaving equipment on board.

The most important rule of thumb is to always wear a life jacket. It could mean the difference between life and death.

"It's really up to the boater and their experience if they feel comfortable going out. We won't stop them but we just want everyone to be prepared," said Belisle.

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