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Prevention and Rescue

The best case scenario for Cold Water Immersion is to "reduce or prevent the risk". If you're boating in cold water, it's as simple as making sure not to overload your boat, avoiding situations where you may fall overboard and, of course, making sure that everyone is wearing a Coast Guard approved lifejacket to protect in the case of an unforeseeable emergency.

Without thermal protection you can lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air with similar temperatures and that can be increased by a factor of up to 10 with movement like swimming or moving water.

The best choice in flotation equipment for Cold Water Immersion is a type that will offer the maximum thermal protection such as a floater jacket and pants or a one-piece survival suit. If you do find yourself in cold water, in addition to having proper flotation, there are some things you can do to delay the onset of Hypothermia. Drawing your legs up close to your chest and wrapping your arms around them in a tuck position will help conserve body heat. If you're in a group, huddling together as close as possible will also help conserve body heat.

HYPOTHERMIA DEMYSTIFIED

Hypothermia can be divided into Mild, Moderate and Severe stages. These stages are defined by the "State of Alaska Cold Injuries Guidelines for Wilderness Emergency Care". The following chart lists the signs and symptoms used in the classification of these three stages.

Classifications

of Hypothermia

Core BodyTemperature

Patient's ability to rewarm without external heat source

Clinical presentation of

Hypothermic Patient

Normal

Above 95F

35C

N/A Cold sensation shivering

Mild

95-90F

35-32C

Good Physical impairment

Fine motor

Gross motor

Mental impariment

Complex

Simple

Moderate

90-82F

32-28C

Limited
Below 90F (32C) shivering stops

Below 86F (30C) consciousness is lost

Severe

Below 82F

28C

Unable Rigidity

Vital signs reduced or absent

Severe risk of mechanically stimulated ventricular fibrillation

(VF) (rough handling)

Below 77F

25C

Unable Spontaneous ventricular fibrillation (VF)

Cardiac arrest

TREATMENT FOR MILD HYPOTHERMIA

TREATMENT FOR MODERATE TO SEVERE HYPOTHERMIA