Cold Shock Response:
The following information was provided by James Gjesing, of HandCrafted Canoes
, as part of his presentation at the WWCKC meeting in January 2013:
What can happen to you in cold water:
- In 2004, 410 people drowned in Canada, 130 were boating.
- Cold Water: 60% drowned in water under 10 degrees C, 34% drowned in water between 10 – 20 degrees C.
- Life-jackets: Only 12% were properly wearing a life-jacket, 2% were improperly wearing a life-jacket.
- Distance from shore: 43% were less than 2 metres from shore/safety, 66% were less than 15 metres from shore/safety.
- How they ended up in the water: 26% fell or were thrown overboard, 48% were in a boat that capsized or was swamped.
- Swimming ability:
- non-swimmer = 29%
- weak = 15%
- average = 12%
- strong = 10%
- not identified = 34%
- Cold Shock (0-2 min):
- occurs immediately upon entry
- lasts up to 2 minutes
- caused by stimulation of skins' nerve endings
- the colder the water, the stronger the response
- Gasp reflex
- Difficulty holding your breath
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
How You Can Die From Cold Shock:
Incapacitation In Cold Water:
Cold Shock (0-2 min)
Gasp reflex (keep your head above water)
Hyperventilation (keep calm)
Cardiac arrest (pre-existing heart condition)
When and how can you die in cold water:
- Difficulty swimming
- Loss of functional ability
- Loss of manual dexterity
- Muscle cramping
- Swimming speeds onset of hypothermia
- 2 minute -15 minutes
- Local Cooling Decreases Performance or Functional Disability
- If you can’t get out in 5-15 minutes, you might not get out on your own power!
- If so, prepare to survive.
- Thrashing around will
- increase heat loss
- cause exhaustion (drowning)
Winter Paddling Gear
- Onset of Hypothermia (more than 30 minutes in water)
- Cooling to UNCONSCIOUSNESS
- If head goes under, then drowning (30-120 minutes).
- If head above water, then cooling to Cardiac Arrest
- Death (90-180 minutes or more, depending on water temp, body size, etc.)
- Canoes / Kayaks - Composite vs Plastic - Which will break more easily in cold weather?
- Provided the manufacturer is using industry standards, your canoe / kayak should not be affected by the cold temperatures
- Some lower quality roto-molded canoes / kayaks are susceptible to cracking in cold weather