Hypothermia and Cold Water


Dangers of cold water

Exposure to cold water can be dangerous, even on warm days. It is dangerous to swim or dive if the water temperature is below 15°C. Extreme cold temperatures can occur in alpine waters all year round and on many NSW waterways in winter and spring. The risk of hypothermia is increased when you are exposed to the elements. If you fall into cold water, it can be fatal.


Hypothermia is a term used to describe a condition in which the body’s core temperature drops below normal levels. It is a medical condition that occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35 degrees Celcius. As the temperature of your body continues to fall, your brain, heart, and other internal organs begin to suffer. When you enter the water, your body begins to cool, but hypothermia condition can take several minutes to develop.

Hypothermia can have the following symptoms

  • The early stages of hypothermia involve intense shivering as the body tries to maintain its core temperature.
  • If a person’s speech is slurred or he is confused, it could be a sign of hypothermia.
  • The slowing of a person’s pulse rate is a sign of hypothermia.
  • In cases of hypothermia, dilation of the pupils may be a sign.
  • When a person suffers from excessive fatigue, a weak pulse, or unconsciousness, it may be an indication of hypothermia.

Eventually, a person who has been exposed to cold temperatures will lose consciousness.

Cold shock

When you enter cold water, an uncontrollable reaction occurs in your body called cold shock. Your heart rate and breathing increase sharply. You can inhale water while breathing hard. Cold shock can be dangerous in the first few moments, but it poses no threat after that.

What to do in case of Hypothermia

If you fall overboard, try to stay calm and don’t panic. It is important to stay with the vessel if you are affected by hypothermia.

When you are in cold water, you can survive longer if you follow these tips.


When you’re in a group in the water, it’s best to huddle together to reduce the risk of hypothermia. Huddle together to defend your chests and arms from exposure to cold water. This can result in longer survival time by reducing your body’s rate of heat loss.

HELP (Heat Escape Lessening Posture)

When you’re alone, the best way to conserve your body’s heat is to stay in the HELP position. Bring your knees close to your chest and wrap your arms around them. Put your hands in a tuck position and stay in this position.

Share This Post