The U.S. Coast Guard and Metroparks Toledo advise waiting until the end of the season or wearing special gear if you decide to go kayaking this spring.

TOLEDO, Ohio — As the weather warms, more and more people will be scratching the itch and getting out on the water, but experts say it will take a few more months for it to warm to a safe temperature.

Amanda Damalski is an experienced rower and outdoor skills specialist Toledo Metropark who said that even with specialized equipment such as wet and dry suits, the water is still very cold at this time of year.

“The river and the lake are best saved for experienced paddlers who also have special gear, special equipment, a special skill set to be able to paddle safely, it’s really not for beginners,” Damalski said.

If you choose to paddle a kayak or canoe, Ohio requires children under 10 to wear a life jacket, and Michigan requires children under 6.

Domalski said Metroparks Toledo has an even tougher rule that equates life jackets in the water to a seat belt in a car.

“We require that people wear personal flotation devices at all times and wear them properly, because that’s really the best way to keep yourself safe on the water,” Damalski said.

Damalski said it’s extremely difficult to put on a personal flotation device when you’re actually in the water, so it’s a decision you have to make when you get on the water.

Down the Maumee River Petty Officer Aaron Tanata of US Coast Guard Station Toledo shared some similar tips as the river is still a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tannata said that when you go out, it’s important to have a “fluid plan” that tells someone else where you’re going to go and when you’ll be back.

“So someone else is responsible for you and they know that person was supposed to be back by 5 tonight, it’s now 7. Okay, let’s call someone,” Tanato said.

Also, Tannato said, what may look closer in the water may be much further away.

“When you’re in the middle, the ground can seem a lot closer than it is. So you don’t want to try to swim through it unless you’re absolutely sure it’s closer than it looks,” Tannato said.

Tannata said it’s also important to know your limits and when to snooze, because there will always be another opportunity to walk away.

Metroparks soon offer classes for kayaking and tours with trained professionals for the less experienced.

Previous articleOhio Lottery director’s conduct toward staff found inappropriate
Next articleJordan Neely’s New York subway death could go to grand jury for possible indictments