Brothers Jacob (2) and Zech (6) both died of hypothermia last week after the sail boat they were in capsized in the middle of Clearwater Lake in northern Minnesota. The boys were accompanied by their 8-year-old brother and their father. All four were wearing life jackets.
According to the boys' father, the boat capsized after a strong gust of wind struck the sails. He reportedly tried pulling all three boys to shore, but strong currents made that impossible. Instead, he left the boys in the water as he rushed to shore to get help.
By the time emergency crews arrived 30 minutes later, all three boys were non-responsive.
The Water isn't Safe Yet
Although air temperatures were in the high-50s and low-60s that day, the water temperature in Clearwater Lake was still extremely cold. The same continues to be true for most northern lakes throughout the country.
Hypothermia occurs whenever the body's core temperature drops dramatically from 98.6°. Once the core body temperature dips below 93° victims will lose most control over the hands, arms and legs. As the body temperature continues to drop below 82°, victims will lose consciousness and the heartbeat will become erratic. For young children in near freezing water, it doesn't take long for the core body temperature to reach these dangerous levels.
Even though most of the country is experiencing record temperatures this spring, water temperatures still have a ways to go before they're considered safe for swimming. Never enter water that isn't at least 50°, and even at temperatures that low do not spend extended periods of time submerged.