Cold Water Shock

Posted by Kieran 08/03/2016 0 Comment(s)

"If you are lucky enough to survive long enough to die of hypothermia, you have done very well; most die in the first minute of immersion" – Professor Mike Tipton, Expert in Hypothermia

Brief Summary

"If you are lucky enough to survive long enough to die of hypothermia, you have done very well; most die in the first minute of immersion" – Professor Mike Tipton, Expert in Hypothermia

 

It is the short term involuntary response to sudden immersion in cold water. It lasts for only about a minute after immersion but cold water is a leading cause of death in the sea. Cold water shock is not to be mistaken with hypothermia.

 

Detailed Look

Pre-Immersion = 0 Minute                       Immersion = 1 Minute                                   Immersion = 5 Minutes

 

This plot looks at the Heart Rate, Breathing Rate & Breathing Volume over a minute for each of the three stages. The heart rate is beats per minute, the breathing rate it breaths per minute and the breathing volume is litres per minute.

 

Immediately one can see that there is a drastic change in the body once one becomes immersed in the cold water. This is a panic stage. The heart rate almost doubles. The breath rate and breathing volume have a dramatic increase. All these figures are getting closer to pre-immersed state after 5 minutes but are still significantly higher than they were pre-immersion.

The rapid increase in the heart rate tells us that people with heart problems are at immediate risk of death once immersed. It is even possible for those who are relatively healthy to suffer a heart attack. The large amount of gasps and the breathing rate tells us that the person is hyperventilating. It can result in water being breath in, so it is very important to keep your head above water.

 

Tips

  • If it is possible, one should slowly immersed themselves in cold water. This gives your body a chance to adapt.
  • It is important not to panic and to stay calm, try not to waste energy panicking.
  • It is very important to wear protective clothing. Try wearing a life jacket and clothing that will provide you with thermal protection.
  • Try to keep your head above water and going under water, use an underwater breathing device.
  • Remain as still in the water as possible until your body adapts to the waters. Do not swim immediately

 

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