Cold water cools a body 25 times faster than cold air, it said, adding that nearly half of drownings while boating are attributed to being immersed in cold water.
The ODNR said wearing a life jacket is a good idea anytime you are on the water but especially with cold water.
A properly fitted life jacket will keep your airway out of the water, protecting you from inhaling water due to an uncontrollable gasping reflex, the department said.
The ODNR also warned about possible hazards as springtime rain creates high water and swift currents in lakes, rivers and streams.
Specifically, it warned that high water can cover dangers like downed trees, eroded banks and other obstacles.
Glen Cobb, chief of the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft, said boaters should scout the river or stream before launching any watercraft if there is high water.
For example, the ODNR said kayakers and other paddlers should never boat on streams with water spilling out of its banks, as well as to never try to boat over dams.
He also said they should share their boating plans with a responsible friend or family member.