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The risk of cold shock in freezing water

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Boating Accidents

If it’s 55° outside, it may be chilly and time to wear a coat, but it’s not dangerously cold.

However, if the water is 55°, that’s cold enough that it could lead to a fatal accident. Remember that water pulls body heat away from you four times more quickly than would happen with cold air. In other words, your body can survive for a lot longer in cold air, but cold water can quickly drain what little heat you have and increase the risks of hypothermia.

Additionally, cold shock is a serious hazard when someone falls into the water. This can increase the odds that they will drown, even if they’ve only been in the water for a few seconds.

What happens with a cold shock?

The shock of hitting cold water can make it difficult for people to breathe. They will start gasping, and they will feel like the cold is pressing in on their chest. Their blood pressure will go up and so will their heart rate. They’ll begin breathing rapidly.

What often happens is that this rapid breathing causes the person to inhale some of the water. But even if they don’t, the perceived inability to breathe due to the cold can make that person panic. People will sometimes be so shocked by the cold that they will go entirely under, swallow a mouthful of water, and suddenly find themselves at severe risk of drowning, even though they just landed in the water. This is why even those who are very good swimmers can be at risk if they fall out of a boat or off of a ship.

Have you suffered severe injuries in a boating accident or perhaps lost a loved one? Be sure you know what legal options you have.