You Could Catch Your Death of Cold!
By Mayo Clinic staff
Hypothermia is a medical emergency
that occurs when your body loses
heat faster than it can produce
heat, causing a dangerously low
body temperature. Normal body
temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C).
occurs as your body temperature
passes below 95 F (35 C).
When your body temperature drops,
your heart, nervous system and
other organs cannot work correctly.
Left untreated, hypothermia eventually
leads to complete failure of your heart
and respiratory system and to death.
Hypothermia is most often caused by
exposure to cold weather or
immersion in a cold body of water.
Primary treatments are methods to
warm the body back to a normal
mia/DS00333 (downloaded: October 31,
So what does this have to do
with you and sailing at Canyon
Lake? Below is a chart of the
average surface water
temperature at Canyon Lake. As
you can see, there is a wide
variance of water temperature
between summer swimming
season and mid winter.
Month Temperature (F)
Source: empirical data collection
and extrapolation by author.
Stages of and treatment of Hypothermia
(source: http://www.searoom.com/cold1.htm, downloaded: October 31,
Early...core temperature 36 degrees Celsius. (96.8 F)
+ skin pale, numb and waxy + fatigue begins
+ weakness + muscle tenseness. Shivering may begin
+ judgment capability is still intact
+ remove from the elements
+ give hot drinks (No Caffeine, No Alcohol)
+ halt further heat loss with extra clothing
Mild...core temperature 35 to 34 degrees Celsius (95 to 93.2 F)
+ uncontrolled intense shivering occurs
+ movements become less coordinated. Unable to grasp a line or ladder
at this point.
+ judgment capability impaired, but is still alert
+ feelings of intense coldness such as numbness in hands and feet
Treatment + remove from elements if able
+ remove wet clothing...handle the person gently as jolting can affect heart
function by pumping back cold blood to the heart.
+ avoid massaging the muscles as this will also send cold blood back to the
heart. It will result in further core temperature drops or heart standstill.
+ layer on clothing. Cover the head and neck well!
+ apply lukewarm objects such as chemical packs, water bottles or hand
warmers to the head, neck and trunk. Watch for signs of burns. The
temperature of these objects should be tested on your elbow before
+ if person is able to swallow and is conscious, give warm, non alcoholic
drinks such as milk or soup. Avoid coffee, tea and cocoa as these are
cardiac stimulants. Avoid alcohol as it dilates blood vessels causing further
heat loss. So much for the Saint Bernard dog and the rum barrel wrapped
around his neck!
Moderate...core temperature 33 to 31 degrees Celsius
(91.4 to 87.8 F)
+ shivering slows or stops. The body's initial compensating response to
cold is to shiver uncontrollably. This generates heat by the involuntary
muscular movement. When this fails, the body stops shivering because it
uses up more energy...hence heat to cause the muscle to shiver. It is a sign
the person is in serious trouble!
+ muscles begin to stiffen
+ speech is slow, vague, slurred
+ mental confusion and apathy is present
+ drowsiness and strange behaviour occurs
+ breathing is slower and more shallow
+ As above ...with mild stage
+ monitor vital signs and be ready to start CPR. If there is a pulse and
breathing....no matter how faint...do not give CPR. Keep a VERY CLOSE
+ skin to skin such as person to person contact is imperative. Once the
person has stopped to shivering, they are unable to get warm again without
an external heat source.
Severe... core temperature less than 31 degrees Celsius
(86 F and less)
+ skin cold and bluish + eyes may be dilated
+ marked lack of coordination
+ may show signs of clouded consciousness or may become unconscious.
+ person may appear DEAD, especially with cold waxy skin and dilated
pupils. NEVER assume a person is dead until the body has been rewarmed.
+ Skin to skin contact in areas of chest and neck. Keep head covered. A
prewarmed sleeping bag with one or two naked people in it is very
+ exhale warm air near the person's nose and mouth or introduce warm
steam into the area.
+ use mild heat... stop any further temperature loss.
+ if the person is semi conscious, keep the person awake. He/she is in
serious trouble and needs close and continuous monitoring. HANDLE VERY
GENTLY! By now the heart is extremely sensitive. Again, DO NOT
MASSAGE THE MUSCLES. REWARM SLOWLY!
+ if the person is unconscious check the carotid pulses. Take a full two
minutes and check each side if unable to palpate initially on one side.
Check the breathing. If no pulse or breathing is present , then start CPR.
Always assume that this person's situation is reversible. DO NOT GIVE UP!
The person is considered to be in a "metabolic ice box"! Continue CPR until
the person has been rewarmed and the heart begins to beat, or the person
applying CPR cannot continue without endangering themselves, or the
person has been rewarmed and the heart does not begin to beat.
+ medical help is imperative...hospitalization is needed
(source: U.S. Coast Guard, accessed
October 31, 2010)
Stage 1: Cold-shock (0-2
minutes): "The cold-shock
gasping for air;
2) sudden increase in breathing rate;
3) sudden increase in heart rate;
4) sudden increase in blood
5) dramatic decrease in breath-
Stage 2: Functional Disability (2-
30 minutes): "If you survive
the cold-shock reflexes after falling
overboard, cold water can still
affect you in other ways...Your hands
get cold quickly and you lose manual
dexterity and grip strength. This can
affect your ability to grasp
a rescue line or life ring or even to
help pull yourself back aboard
your vessel. Both swimming failure
and loss of manual dexterity
can occur during the first 30 minutes
after falling into cold water.
Again, a PFD would be life-saving
during this period, as it would
dramatically decrease your need to
swim to keep your head up."
Stage 3: Hypothermia
(> 30 minutes):
"Hypothermia is a decrease
in the body’s core temperature (i.e.,
a drop in the temperature of
the body’s vital organs below 95°F)
resulting from excessive heat
loss to the cold water. Hypothermia is
not really a threat until
you have been immersed in cold
water for at least 30 minutes...When
the body’s temperature falls to
around 86-90°F, you will
lose consciousness and likely drown."
Stage 4: Post-Rescue Collapse
(> 30 minutes): "A survivor is still
at significant risk even after removal
from the water. Significant
levels of hypothermia can slow the
body’s normal defenses against
a sudden drop in blood pressure...
This can occur when the survivor
is removed from the water,
particularly if he/she is rescued in a
vertical posture and not promptly
placed in a horizontal posture..."
March 27, 2011 "...several of the people were wearing life jackets, but
the two men who drowned,[Chao Chen and his 48-year-old son Jun
Chen], were not...."
Nov. 17, 2010 Debbie Ann Reynolds, "...may have fallen in after
hooking a fish".
August, 2010, Frank Delano Harrison, Jr drowns swimming to recover
an inner tube
February 2010, Scott Freund, Canyon Lake
September 2009, Morgan Clark, 20 years old
September 2009, Richard Sepulveda, 24 years old
July 2009, David Richards, Father of 3
July 2009, Daniel Robert Parker, Lubbock
July, 2008 S. A. Teen drowns in Canyon Lake
recommend for late
fall, winter, and early
A well fitting life jacket (PFD) worn over
layered clothing is your best protection
against hypothermia and drowning.
You've accidentally fallen into the
water in mid-winter, there are other
boaters nearby but they don't see your
plight. With this whistle attached to
your life jacket, you'll get their
An important step in treating
hypothermia is to prevent
further heat loss. Be
prepared! Keep a thermal
blanket on your boat for
in cold water
Photo source: : Seabotics.com
Medical research and studies have
proven that people can survive
near drowning without permanent
damage. Essentially the theory
revolves around colder water
rescues (less than 21ºC/69.8ºF)
where the person is recovered
from the water in under 60
minutes. Some have shown that
the amount of time could reach 90
minutes. It does vary from person
to person. The rescued victim is
not resuscitated immediately, but
over a period of approximately 48
"... When an unconscious body sinks below 15 feet, water pressure can hold it
down forever. The SARbot could discover human remains that have long
Things get very bad, very quickly for people in cold water. Just minutes after
total submersion, heart and brain activity stop. But the cold also protects. If
rescuers can reach a drowning victim in less than 90 minutes, it’s possible to
resuscitate, often with no long-term ill effects. Inspired by this fact, Duncan
Winsbury, a former station manager at the Fire & Rescue Service in
Derbyshire, England, set out to build a robot that could find and retrieve cold-
water drowning victims fast.
Winsbury explained his vision to Jesse Rodocker, the co-founder of Seattle
robot-maker SeaBotix, and the duo made SARbot, upgrading a shoebox-size
remotely operated sub typically used to salvage shipwrecks. The robot
transmits sonar and video data to land via a cable. Rescuers then can use its
arm to latch onto a victim and haul both him and the ’bot in like a lobster trap.
SARbot is simple enough that trained rescuers can get it in the water in four
minutes. In tests last year, it found practice dummies less than five minutes
after hitting the water. “Only a few fire departments carried the jaws of life
when it debuted,” Rodocker says. “Now they’re on nearly every truck. SARbot
could have a similar impact.”
Impressed by SARbot’s performance, U.K. officials have shown
interest in purchasing a fleet, as have officials in Seattle and Chicago. “This
can help cut drowning deaths in half,” Winsbury says. “And we never have to
get our feet wet.”" source: Popular Science online
Video shot by SMART diver on June 26, 2011 while searching for
drowning victim at Canyon Lake, Texas.