U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that most drowning victims did not drown because they did not know how to swim. They were lost because they quickly started to suffer from hypothermia and had no life jacket on to keep them afloat!
Hypothermia occurs when the body’s core temperature falls more than 2 or 3o F. Hypothermia that occurs from exposure to cold air happens gradually. However, because water conducts heat away from the body 25 times faster than air does, it is a very serious problem for a person in the water.
Symptoms include: mental confusion, drowsiness, slurred speech and exhaustion. If left in the water too long, the victim will become unconscious, with breathing and heart rates slowing and, eventually, stopping.
Hypothermia Signals include:
2. Impaired judgement
8. Impaired vision
Some Do's and Don'ts
If you find yourself in cold water, here are a few Do s and Don’t s.
DO assume the Heat Escape Lessening Position (HELP). Pull your legs up over your groin area, clasp your arms over your chest and move as little as possible. Survival time can be doubled when in the HELP position. This method assumes that you had a lifejacket on when you went overboard. (Lifejackets float, you don't. Wear them!) If you don't have a lifejacket on, tread water as little as possible to retain body heat.
If your boat has swamped or capsized, DO STAY WITH THE BOAT and try to get as much of your body as possible out of the water and onto the boat.
If you rescue someone suffering from hypothermia, DO remove their wet clothing and wrap them in warm blankets. DON'T massage their arms and legs! Doing so draws more heat away from their vital organs. If the person is unconscious or in shock, call for medical assistance immediately. The body loses most of its heat from the head, spine and groin areas, so the head should be wrapped or covered and the body placed flat against a warm surface and wrapped in warm blankets as stated before. DON'T give the victim alcohol!