Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a life threatening situation where you need to survive in cold water for a length of time. However, nobody ever predicts this is a situation which will occur to them, so it is good to know how to survive in case the worst happens.
It is highly likely that your body will go into shock in the event of accidental immersion into cold water. You may find it hard to catch your breath, and it becomes easy to panic. Try to relax, breathe and move. If you simply float, your body is not working to keep itself warm and your body temperature is likely to drop even more rapidly. Ideally, try to swim towards safety, however if this isn’t possible, you should continue to move in any way you can. Studies suggest that you can swim for 800-1500 metres in cold water, so try to make it count.
Although perhaps easier said than done, try to think logically. Try to assess your surroundings as soon as possible. When making a hesitant decision, you are less likely to be able to complete your rescue plan, due to the fact that your judgement begins to falter once you have been in the cold water for an increased amount of time.
Take those early moments to ensure your life jacket is securely tightened, set off any alerts you may have, and then begin your rescue mission. Typically, adults have 30 minutes before becoming clinically hypothermic, and an hour or more for this to become severe. This means that you have a good chance of being able to save yourself, you have time.
Try to keep your head above water and keep moving, regardless of how tired you become. If your body temperature drops further, your body will use more energy to try to keep you warm than it would for you to continue moving.
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