Exposure to cold water can be life-threatening to the unprotected individual. From being thrown overboard or forced to abandon ship, everybody reacts differently to the temperature of the water. Initial panic and shock sets in, which may place severe strain on the victim, causing them to become disoriented.
All efforts should then be placed to get out of the water, as immediately as possible. However, it is important to note that swimming actually increases heat loss and can decrease survival time. As a victim, depending on your situation, you will be faced with a choice: adopt a defensive position to conserve body heat and wait for rescue or attempt to swim for safety.
How much time do you have to wait for survival?
When rescued, the victim should be evaluated for hypothermia and rescuers should begin to rewarm the victim's core.
Signs & Symptoms of Hypothermia:
• Shivering, although shivering stops as hypothermia worsens
• Clumsiness or lack of coordination.
• Slurred speech or mumbling.
• Confusion and poor decision-making, such as trying to remove warm clothes.
• Drowsiness or very low energy.
Proper preparation is essential when boating on cold water. Having man overboard and rescue modules will aid in quickly getting a man overboard out of the water. In the event of an abandon ship, a life raft will keep you and your crew out of the freezing water.
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