• Wear a lifejacket
• Get out of the water
• Limit movement
Get out of the water quickly, especially when the water is cold. Cold water saps your heat 32 times more quickly than cold air. Get up on any type of debris, upturned boat, coolers, anything that will boost you out of dangerous water. If this is not possible, try to conserve as much energy as possible; band with other survivors to help maintain body heat. Hypothermia is even possible in warm waters. Being submerged in water long enough is all it takes. The rate of hypothermia depends on your physical condition, size, and the water survival techniques you used. To prevent inhalation of water into your lungs due to the sudden change of temperature make sure to cover your mouth as you fall into the water.
Survival times based on temperatures are not 100% accurate as each body responds to conditions differently, but they are good go-to guidelines:
70–80° F (21–27° C): 3 hours – indefinitely
60–70° F (16–21° C): 2–40 hours
50–60° F (10–16° C): 1–6 hours
40–50° F (4–10° C): 1–3 hours
32.5–40° F (0–4° C): 30–90 minutes
<32° F (<0° C): Under 15–45 minutes
First and foremost: Do not panic. When you panic, your heart rate and breathing increases. This will cause energy and heat to be lost at an alarming pace, so it is paramount to stay calm. You have two choices:
1. Wait for help – To maintain the most heat lean back with your head above water and bring your legs into your body to maintain heat to all your major organs. This looks a bit like the fetal position.
2. Swim to shore – Most people cannot swim a mile in cold water, so unless you are in peak physical condition do not attempt this. Even gently swimming will increase heat loss 50% or more, drastically decreasing survivability. Lastly, you should really have a safety device on your person if at all possible. The likelihood of your survival really depends on it.
Life Jackets are very important life saving devices. It will be much easier to stay upright or above water when you are wearing a life jacket. In addition, if you bump your head on the way down into the water the life jacket will keep your mouth above water. Less energy will be expended keeping your head above water than without a life jacket.
See a list of all the items we offer that can drastically increase the rate at which you are rescued by clicking here.