Dress appropriately for comfort and to help prevent hypothermia. Most of Kananaskis Country’s waterways are very cold, even in mid-summer.
- Consider layering with synthetic materials, similar to hiking. Avoid cotton.
- Wear a paddling jacket or shirt with neck and arm cuffs that seal. Neoprene layers are excellent.
- Wearing a life jacket is essential.
- Results from lowering the core body temperature, which drops nearly 25 percent faster in water
- Affects your mental state and the use of extremities
- Is influenced by: water immersion, cold temperatures, fatigue, poor health, poor hydration and nutrition
1-10-1 Rule for Cold Water Immersion
Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, from the University of Manitoba, coined the phrase 1-10-1 to describe the three critical phases of cold water immersion.
- 1 minute to get breathing under control
- Once immersed, your body will panic due to the severe cold. You may experience a sudden gasp, followed by hyperventilation.
- It is critical to keep your airway clear. Try to remain calm, focus and get your breathing under control.
- Wearing a lifejacket is critical to keep you afloat and breathing.
- 10 minutes of meaningful body movement
- In the following 10 minutes, you'll slowly lose the use of your extremities starting with fingers and toes. During this period, you'll lose the ability to continue swimming.
- Focus on self-rescue.
- If self-rescue is not possible, concentrate on establishing a way to keep your airway clear. Have a good position to maintain body heat and wait for rescue.
- If your water craft floats, it is much easier for rescue personnel to see than you on the water alone.
- 1 hour before unconsciousness sets in due to hypothermia
- Understanding hypothermia, knowing techniques to delay it, as well as tips for self-rescue and calling for help will improve your chances of survival.
Cold Water Survival
If you are immersed in cold water with no imminent rescue possible
- Signalling could attract attention - whistles, flares or even waving clothing or a paddle. Be ready to use signals to increase your chance of being seen.
- Consider staying with your water craft, unless you are sure you can swim to safety. It can be used to get part of your body out of the water and is much more visible to rescue personnel.
- Stay calm and try to be still. Moving increases heat loss in the water.
- Keep your body compact (the fetal position) as it decreases the rate of heat loss.
- If you are with others in the water, form a circle facing one another and use the fetal position.
- Stay mentally strong and fight for survival.
Check for Cold Water Boot Camp for additional resources and info. Beyond Cold Water Boot Camp has sections on