Sunday, October 24, 2010


The waters here around the Isle of Long have gotten too cold for swimming. At least for most people including me. But, that has not stopped me from sailing but, that becomes more dangerous with each passing day as the water temperature drops. If I should happen to fall overboard the chances of survival start to diminish rapidly as time ticks away. Ex Coast Guard rescue swimmer Mario Vittone has some very good tips on cold water survival at his blog. Here for example are the three phases of what happens when you are suddenly immersed in cold water:
Phase 1: The cold shock response – accidentally falling into cold water (say, under 59° F) is an assault on the body’s senses. Characterized by uncontrollable gasping and disorientation, the first moments can be the most dangerous. So for that first minute (1), do nothing but keep your head above water, try and stay calm, and control your breathing. The gasping will stop and then you’ll be able to work on getting yourself safely out of the water.

Phase 2: Swim failure – or the loss of muscle control – happens to everyone who stays in cold water long enough. If you’re not wearing a life jacket – regardless of how strong a swimmer you are – you will drown long before you ever become clinically hypothermic. The longer you stay in, the weaker you become. So after that first minute of just staying calm, you have about ten (10) minutes to try and self rescue. If you haven’t gotten out of the water by then, you’re not going to. Conserve your energy to delay phase three.

Phase 3: Hypothermia – core body temperature of 95° or less – takes a surprisingly long time to happen. The point here is not to panic. Depending on variables like air and water temperature, no matter how uncomfortable you are (and trust me – you will be) you will have an hour (1) or more before you lose consciousness from hypothermia.

So for cold water survival just remember 1 – 10 – 1. That’s one minute, ten minutes, one hour – and always wear your life jacket when out in cold water.
There is more info on this at Vittones Blog  it's worth reading and may save your life.

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