NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 6, 2015) – Falling into cold water when visiting a local waterway or lake during the winter can be deadly, so it’s important to be prepared and know what to do to survive.
Here are a few cold water safety tips and information that could save your life in the unlikely event you are immersed in freezing water.
- All boaters should wear a life jacket and dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. Cold-water immersion causes many boating-related fatalities. It follows four stages, starting with cold shock, followed by swimming failure, then hypothermia and finally post-rescue collapse. Most cold-water drowning fatalities are attributed to the first two stages.
- The initial shock of cold water causes involuntary gasping making it difficult to catch your breath and many people hyperventilate, faint, and drown before they are able to calm down their breathing.
- The longer you are exposed to cold water, the more you lose your ability to move your extremities. If you haven’t been able to get out of the water in 5-15 minutes you need to stop moving. Movement will deplete your energy faster and increase heat loss.
- Hypothermia is a condition in which the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. Violent shivering develops which may give way to confusion and eventually cardiac arrest or unconsciousness.
If you fall in the water, in any season, you need to know cold water survival skills. Many of our nation’s open waters are mountain fed, and water temperatures even in late summer can run low enough to bring on this condition under certain conditions.
It’s important to remember:
- Don’t discard clothing and dress warmly with wool clothing. Clothing layers provide some warmth that may actually assist you in fighting hypothermia. This includes shoes and hats. A popular myth is that wet clothes will weigh you down in the water and they are actually only heavy when you are out of the water.
- Wear your life jacket! This helps hold heat into the core areas of your body, and enables you to easily put yourself into the HELP position. HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Posture) by drawing limbs into your body; keep armpits and groin areas protected from unnecessary exposure – a lot of heat can be lost from those areas, as well as the head.
View more life saving water safety tips - Are You Next at http://watersafety.usace.army.mil/AreYouNext.pdf.
Source: Corps Lakes Gateway
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)