Cold Water Immersion Video

-- Last Updated: Jan-15-05 12:40 PM EST --

Video about surviving a cold water immersion put together by a Canadian scientist.

Use High Speed Connection!
This is the piece from Discovery Channel and it is rather lengthly (several minutes), so you really need a high speed internet connection to view this excellent demonstration. Makes you think twice about dunking your head!

I was unaware that cold shock could possibly only last for a couple minutes. And that hypothermia isnt really a factor at all in most cold water drownings. It seems to be hyperventilation that does the killing.

It was interesting that the doc actually said to be still for a couple of minutes to get over the cold shock. Seems crazy.

Keep context in mind
I agree it does seem wrong. I have heard his whole hour long program and this clip is misleading in some ways, due to being a short piece of the whole.

Here he is talking about how to deal with it if you are a snowmobiler or skier. The person has the advantage of going in feet first. Remembe he does say that you die if head first and gasp, a huge problem for us kayakers, huge.

Second, in the longer version he talks about how extreme is the cold shock, and shows how it varies by how much of your body gets infiltrated by the freezing water, and how fast determines the degree of the cold shock and how long it lasts. By moving around during the initial period, you accelerate the infiltration of water and make it worse. You also accelerate times a factor of 10 the speed of loss of muscle control. This is why it is imperative to have neck, head, armpits, groin covered! Also, there is involuntary physiological panic and loss of judgment during this so he is alerting us to stay still so as to not make things worse.

Although it is really good for us to raise awareness about the predominance of people dying from intitial exposure, it would be possibly not good to think that few people die of hypothermia as that is less than accurate. Actually in that cold a water, in around 10 minutes one cannot use one’s muscles sufficiently to get out. The process of drowning is not pretty. Initially you tread water in horizontal position, you become more and more unable to do so, then you lose control of neck muscles and suffocate. Not nice. By keeping still with your arms out of the water on the boat, if you cannot get back in, you slow the exchange of cold water into your clothing and retain some hope of using your arms if help arrives.

kicking legs to the surface
and exiting horizontally is a great way to go. This is also important for those reentering a kayak. Pull up an inch or two, and horizontally a foot or two.

Excellent demo!
I learned alot from that clip but still feel that if I ever fell into the water around here I would be doomed. I feel that we should have our local rescue people out there practising more with this type of rescue. I am not the only kayaker out there in winter but I do however paddle primarily alone as many won’t go out at this time of year. After that clip though I feel like I would remember something from it if I did need to use those rescue skills.

Drysuit or really stable boat
I would not paddle a 600 on flat water this time of yearwithour my drysuit.

Live you life as you would my friend, but pleass think about it.

Thank you for the link…
Many years ago 2 boys fell through the ice in my town. Someone else’s Dad tried to rescue them and was able to save 1 boy before he and the other boy died. I have since read everything I could find about ice safety and rescue and this is a great link. I will post it on the other fishing sites I go to and others will be saved. Keep passing this great info on.

AKA Dr. Popsicle

– Last Updated: Jan-17-05 9:17 AM EST –

Some more info on the author, Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht aka, Drl Posicle as he is called.

I paddle my 600 on New Year’s Day with a ton of people and lock it away til spring after that- I wouldn’t use it after then as the currents and occasional wakes can contribute to capsize you. I am not a stoopid paddler- I switch off to my WIDER more stable Dagger-the barge, and paddle it in winter amongst the bergs quite safely.

That Was My Experience
When I capsized accidentally in cold water. Common sense told me to stay calm, and in about a minute or so the hyperventilating stopped. I had enough mobility to do my part in an assisted rescue. I was in an ideal situation. I could see how things would have been a lot worse if it wasn’t.


The boat is not the issue
If you’re properly dressed in a dry suit and a hood, you will not suffer from either cold shock or hypothermia in a capsize. I’ve spent a lot of time swimming in 40 degree water in a dry suit and have watched many others do the same in cold water training classes. I’ve also witnessed several unintentional capsizes and swims by dry suit clad paddlers in equally cold conditions. None of them had any problems with hyperventilation, gasping or cold shock. Dress right and you eliminate the major causes of death in cold water.

Bnystrom, what
drysuit and hood do you use for cold weather paddling?