Don’t just dive in – Cold Water Shock

Fri 7th April 2017

Cold water shock – It’s April the sun is out and the sea is calm.
Shouldn’t we just dive in?

One of the often repeated quotes during skipper training, here at RibRide, comes from a highly regarded sea survival expert: “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“.

Contrary to popular belief the sea is not warming up, it is at its coldest in April. Currently it’s around 8 degrees, not exactly Speedo weather.

Mother and child on the beach

It way feel warm on the beach but the sea could be very cold.

Here are 5 things our Skippers learn (and we think it everyone should too):

1. Upon entering cold water there is a natural gasp reflex as cold water hits your skin. This isn’t just a little gasp, like the kind you’d experience if somebody jumped out to scare you. It’s a huge gasp that totally fills your lungs. You may experience several of these gasps in a row. If your head is underwater when you gasp, you will immediately drown. You it is very hard to control this giant gasp.

2.. You will then hyperventilate. Panic could then continue this hyperventilation.  If you do not concentrate on and control your breathing, you may faint. Swimming a short a distance, perhaps only 3 to 5 meters, while hyperventilating may be impossible.

3. Your ability to hold your breath will vanish. You may not even be able to hold your breath while a small wave passes over your head.

4. Arteries will constrict causing the heart to really work hard to keep blood moving. This additional workload is enough to cause cardiac arrest. This can occur even in the relatively young and relatively healthy.

5. Your brain will be immediately affected. You will get confused, you will panic, and you will not be able to make decisions or evaluate options. This will continue even when you are back on land.

Cold Water Shock

What can you do?:
If you are on the beach, wear appropriate clothing and enter the water very slowly and remain in the shallows close to the shore.
Don’t be alone.
Don’t dive in.
Please consider this, even if you are an experienced sea or lake swimmer, the Irish Sea is particularly cold.

If you are on a boat you would, of course, wear a lifejacket (or at least a personal flotation device) as well as appropriate clothing.

Check out what our Skippers wear, do you think they are overdressed OR do you think they very experienced?

Shadow of a parent and child, cast onto the sand

Don’t let a mistake cast a long shadow

If you would like to train to Skipper a power boat, Personal watercraft, jetski or improve your skills with a private lesson please contact us. We run Royal Yacht Association training courses on a weekly basis so please call us to discuss your needs.

Call 01248 717784,  email or view RYA L2 Powerboat courses online now!