What is Cold Water Shock?
The first state of a sudden / unexpected immersion in water resulting in a sudden gasp for breath followed by rapid breathing.
Cold shock (0-3 mins): Sudden lowering of skin temperature
- Gasp reflex,
- Sudden lowering of skin temperature causing sharp increase in blood pressure (risk of heart attack),
- Hyperventilating (risk of drowning)
What is immersion hypothermia?
Occurs when your core body temperature drops below 35 degrees centigrade.
Immersion Hypothermia (3-30mins): Body temperature drops below 95º F. (35º C).
- Cold symptoms,
- possible unconciousness,
- eventual heart failure or drowning.
- At risk in water under 25c
- UK summer sea temp = 14 – 18c
- Survival time = 2.5 – 9hrs
- UK winter sea temp = 6-8c
- Survival time = 45mins-2hrs
- Naked = 26x greater body heat loss
- Heat loss increased by swimming
- Best response: H.E.L.P. position, HUDDLE
Possible Signs & Symptoms:
Slow Heart beat
Muscle stiffness / Swim Failure
Lowered body temperature
Heart failure ( a sudden rise in blood pressure can be fatal for people with pre-existing heart conditions)
How to treat immersion hypothermia as a first aider?
- Remove from cold environment
- Check ABCs
- Prevent further heat loss
- Gentle handling
- Slow re-warming
- Cardiac arrest/ drowning – CPR (traditional vs. drowning)