Cold Water Survival

Maintaining body temperature is crucial to cold-water survival. When you're in cold water, do not swim unless you can reach a nearby boat, fellow survivor or floating object. Movement lowers body temperature - even good swimmers drown while swimming in cold water.

If a nearby floating object is large, pull as much of your body as possible out of the water and onto the float. The more your body remains out of water, the less heat it will lose. Do not use survival flotation methods that involve submerging your face in cold water. Keeping your head above water will conserve heat and increase survival time.

Floating in the HELP position will lessen heat loss. However, if you are wearing a Type III PFD, or if the HELP position causes your face to become submerged, bring your arms and legs straight down and hold them tight to your sides while keeping your head tilted back. Whenever possible, keep arms snug to the body under the lifejacket. This is called the SURVIVAL position.

If others are in the water with you, HUDDLE together for warmth. Keep a positive outlook - it will increase your survival chances. Always wear your lifejacket. Even if you become helpless from hypothermia, your lifejacket will help keep you afloat.