Read this in a book and determined some excerpts were well worth sharing.
“First and foremost, he (Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht) wants to dispatch the belief that hypothermia kills quickly. ‘If you think you have just minutes to life, that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,’ he explains. ‘If you decide you’re going to die, you tend to panic and then you do things that are more likely to bring about a negative result.’ Some 95 percent of those who perish in cold water aren’t actually hypothermic, he says. In fact, their body temperatures turn out to be almost normal. The cold doesn’t kill them. It’s the terror that leads to drowning and heart attacks,”
“so what should you do if you end up in cold water? Giesbrecht recommends a straightforward 1 – 10 – 1 system: You have one minute to get your breathing under control, ten minutes of meaningful movement, and one hour before you lose consciousness. ‘Survive the first minute,’ he says, and you’re on your way to saving your life. The most immediate danger comes from what’s called cold shock. This includes a gasp reflex followed by uncontrolled breathing known as hyperventilation. As you gasp for air, you’re more likely to inhale freezing water. This response also makes it difficult to coordinate your swimming movements. Your first goal is to fight the panic and get control of your breathing. Next, you’ve got ten minutes to move—swim to safety and crawl out of the water. After ten minutes, your muscle and nerve fibers get so cold that they don’t function anymore, and you can’t move. If you’re running out of time and can’t climb out, you should try to freeze your arms to the ice so that when you eventually lose consciousness, you won’t sink to the depths. Finally you’ve got about one hour before you lose consciousness.”
“Shivering, he adds, is your body’s way of turning up the thermostat, producing up to five times more heat than simply resting in a warm environment.”
“A (third) myth: Hot drinks like cocoa and coffee help you beat the cold. If fact, Giesbrecht says, any drink with a lot of sugar will make a bigger difference. ‘The head in drinks has mostly a psychological benefit,’ he explains…sugar helps a lot, providing fuel for the body to generate heat and fend off the cold.”
Dr. Giesbrecht, while fearful of the cold, has gone hypothermic 39 times in an effort to research the topic and learn life saving techniques.
The information was pulled from The Survivors Club, Ben Sherwood, 2009. This is a highly recommended book by myself and has some astounding information.
Photo from Andy’s Northern Ontario Wildflowers, Winter Images. http://www.ontariowildflower.com/winter.htm