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#163690 - 01/18/09 02:27 PM Cold Water Survival
Andrew_S Offline

Registered: 01/09/09
Posts: 59
A comment on the Hudson R ditching thread prompts this. I thought it would be better to start a new thread.

The comment was something like "in cold water you can be dead from the cold in three minutes." That's the conventional wisdom, whether it's three minutes or five, or whatever: in cold water, you're dead in mere minutes.

This is a hot topic for me, because for me the worst case scenario is something like dumping a canoe in water that's, say, about 40 F. Obviously, your handy-dandy PSK avails you nothing if you're dead before you can use it.

So I've been reading up, and I found that the conventional wisdom just ain't true. According to Gordon Giesbrecht, a prof at the University of Manitoba, it would take 30 mins to an hour for me to die of hypothermia in that water. I wouldn't even be clinically hypothermic within the first ten minutes.

You can find lots of fascinating stuff by Googling this guy. Here's a couple of (dramatic) Youtube vids:
These focus on surviving if you go through the ice.

Also: http://www.coldwaterbootcamp.com
This is more boating-oriented.

This may be old news to some, but it was new to me.

#163692 - 01/18/09 02:33 PM Re: Cold Water Survival [Re: Andrew_S]
Russ Online   content

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5099
Don't know which post you're referring to in the ditching thread. If it was the post referring to passengers not wearing flotation gear, hypothermia would not have killed them in three minutes; they'd have passed out and drowned before hypothermia killed them. With flotation gear it just takes a little longer.

#163694 - 01/18/09 02:45 PM Re: Cold Water Survival [Re: Russ]
MDinana Offline

Registered: 03/08/07
Posts: 2186
Loc: Bluegrass
Yeah, I don't think your core temp drops in three minutes, it's the temp in your limbs. In which case, it's harder and harder to move them... ie tread water or stay afloat. Or get up onto the ice if you fell through. That's the part that kills.

To back up that statement, look at your own statement under the "1-10-1" tab. Funny graph too - apparently a fat woman can just pretend she's a whale for 5 hours and not be hypothermic... a fat guy can pretend for less time... does that make much sense (scratching head)?

Edited by MDinana (01/18/09 02:47 PM)

#163710 - 01/18/09 04:30 PM Re: Cold Water Survival [Re: MDinana]
Chris Kavanaugh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/09/01
Posts: 3824
"It ain't over till the fat lady sings."
People read you have 3 minutes without air, 3 days water, 30 days food or 72 hour survival kits and at minute 4 or hour 73 give up and die.
Will to live is your Ace card.
I was in Oregon,in winter water that should have killed me and the kid i rescued. Granted, I had a full wetsuit on, a lifejacket and was swimming just to keeep my position.
I was just plain MAD. The idiot lifeboat coxswain that day couldn't keep track of anything or anybody besides his check every two weeks.We were in 'killer temps' for 40 minutes.
I wanted to deck him.
I just conspired with the equally mad Yoeman to lose his pay records upon his joyfull transfer.

Edited by Chris Kavanaugh (01/18/09 04:33 PM)

#163720 - 01/18/09 06:29 PM Re: Cold Water Survival [Re: Andrew_S]
scafool Offline

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 1534
Loc: Muskoka
I will own up to making that comment, and accept correction.
I will edit that comment now.

I looked at the Cold Water Boot Camp page and it is well done.

A person might not legally be dead at 3 minutes but they will likely be beyond the ability to self rescue.

You might like this page.

They have a good index of articles on their home page too.

Notice also that we are still talking about survival times of less than an hour for a lot of people.

Edited by scafool (01/18/09 06:42 PM)
May set off to explore without any sense of direction or how to return.


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