Understanding the Dangers of Cold Water Shock

Understanding the Dangers of Cold Water Shock
Don’t underestimate the power of cold or freezing water. It can be more dangerous than many people realize. In fact, cold water shock can be a killer.

What is Cold Water Shock?

Cold water shock, or “cold shock response” as it is sometimes called, is a quite common cause of death for a person who is suddenly immersed in frigid water. The human body’s immediate natural reaction to a sudden dunking in cold can prove fatal. You see, the shock can trigger an unprepared person to automatically gasp for a breath of air. If you’re underwater at that moment, you might accidentally inhale a gulp of water instead of oxygen.

How Cold is Too Cold?

When the temperature of the water drops below 77 degrees, it can become dangerous for swimmers. When the temperature drops, the body will automatically take drastic measures to conserve warmth. This means that it will attempt to protect the major internal organs as long as possible… at the expense of the extremities. The great majority of blood will flow towards your vital organs, but can cause the person to lose control of the arms or legs. That’s obviously pretty bad news for a struggling swimmer.

That can lead to a victim feeling as though they are suffocating. You will not be able to escape the water, call for help or even stay afloat.

Staying Safe from Cold Water Shock

At Pool Fence DIY, water safety is our top priority. First and foremost, we recommend that everyone take swimming lessons in order to learn how to save themselves from drowning. Additionally, no one should swim alone. Drowning danger is serious business. For protection, never swim without a buddy. Additionally, make sure there is a lifeguard on duty. When a trained lifeguard notices that you or someone else is in trouble, they can rush to the rescue.

In many cases, cold water shock can be prevented if swimmers are careful. For example, try to avoid “shocking” your body. Instead, take a bit to acclimate to the temperature of the colder water. This way, a swimmer incurs far less risk. Basically, you should choose your swimming spots wisely.

No matter how warm the outside air may be, don’t assume that the water is going to share that same warmth. The difference in temperature can be much greater than you might expect. If you’re venturing into the water, take it slow. Let your body acclimate to the temperature.

Of course, that doesn’t take accidents into account. You can’t take an unexpected submersion, say from an overturned boat, gradually. What should a person do in this case? Well, it pays to plan ahead. If you’re out on the water, be sure to wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket. These floatation devices are designed to keep you buoyant. In the case of cold water shock, this can buy you precious time to escape the situation. For instance, when a person falls through the ice.

Above all, think ahead and plan for safety. Cold water shock can be deadly, but there are steps that each of us can take to make our swim a little bit safer.