Fact: Immersion in cold water kills more sea kayakers than any other factor in the sport. Cold water is the single most serious threat to the survival of an unprepared paddler.
Fact: Hypothermia is not normally the issue in cold water paddling, but rather a predictable series of shock reactions that first impair, then quickly preclude, effective self-rescue actions.
Fact: A review of 6 fatal and 12 near-fatal accidents (1985) noted that all but one involved water temperatures of 50°F or less. A more recent review of 20 accidents, 19 involving immersion of 26 people in cold water noted that 10 died before they could be rescued and the remainder had varying degree of hypothermia.
Fact: "Cold Water Kills" is the introduction to the medical safety section of the annual Cold Water Workshop held by Atlantic Kayak Tours. Our goal is to provide you, the beginning, intermediate or advanced paddler with the information you will need to keep yourself safe, healthy and enjoying paddling no matter what the season
Next Page: Cold Shock
As body temperature starts to drops below 98.6.
Move victim to dry shelter and warmth.
Remove wet clothes.
Insulate body, head, and neck.
Apply mild heat to body core to rewarm gradually.
Move mouse over temperature to find condition and treatment.
Prevent further heat loss and let body rewarm.
Give warm, sweet drinks; no alcohol or caffeine.
Keep victim warm for several hours.
Apply gentle heat to stabilize temperature.
Offer drinks only after victim is fully conscious.
Have victim checked by doctor if possible.
Avoid jarring victim; handle gentle.
Ignore pleas to be left alone.
Lay victim on back; keep immobile.
Apply mild heat.
Assume patient is revivable; don't give up.
Look, listen, and feel for breathing and pulse for 2 minutes.
Medical help is imperative.