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Transcript for Dealing with Emergencies

Rob: If you end up overboard, that water might be cold. Let’s talk cold water immersion.

Cold Water Immersion

Rob: It can overcome even the best of paddlers if they aren’t prepared. So minimize your chances of ending up in the water, and remember to dress in layers according to the temperature of the water, not the air.

Stages of Cold Water Immersion

Rob: Cold water immersion has four stages, and death is possible at each stage.

Death Is Always Possible

Rob: Stage One: Cold Shock. Current science shows that there are physiological responses to your skin hitting cold water, including involuntary gasps. The cold can also cause a decrease in blood pressure, increased heart rate, panic, hyperventilation, and vertigo.

Stage Two: Up to 30 minutes in, short-term swim failure.

Stage Three: Long-Term Immersion. After 30 minutes, your core temperature drops and there’s a loss of consciousness.

Stage Four: Post-Immersion Collapse. You see, during or after a rescue, your blood pressure can drop, which could lead to cardiac arrest.

Point is, you don’t want all that to happen to you, so be prepared.

Haley: All this is bad news. And time is of the essence in cold water, so here’s what you do quickly.

Try to re-board or get on anything floating, getting as much of your body out of the water as possible.

If you can’t get out of the water, focus on reducing heat loss. Stay still, and rely on your PFD to support you. You’ve only got three to thirty minutes before losing muscle strength and control. If alone, get in the H.E.L.P position. [H.E.L.P. = Heat Escape Lessening Posture] In a group, huddle together.

Get medical help immediately for cold water immersion victims.

If you were wise enough to pack extra hats and jackets and matches for a paddle in a remote area, build a fire on shore and get any victims into dry clothing.

Rob: Then there’s the other side of the coin—heat-related illnesses.

Heat-Related Illnesses

Rob: Heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps, dehydration can all mean serious business; and they can sneak up on you even on a mild day.

Haley: So make sure to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and lip balm.

And drink plenty of water or drinks with electrolytes.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Try not to paddle in the hottest part of the day, and find shade when you can.

Take breaks often, and dress in layers so you can remove them if you’re getting too hot.

Review the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, so you can recognize them in yourself and in others. For the most part, treating them means getting out of the sun quickly and drinking water. But for more severe cases, make sure you get medical attention right away.

Rob: And let’s not forget that weather can change in an instant.

We’re talking thunderstorms and severe weather. So not only check and re-check the weather, look for changes while you’re on the water. Fog, gray skies, dark clouds in the distance, whipping winds, rain. All good cues you should prepare for facing an imminent storm or foul weather. If you see any of that, head to the nearest shore.

If you’re out there in your craft, here’s what you do. Quickly check your life jackets, spray skirts, etc. Secure any unnecessary gear, close hatches, and prepare for rough seas. Paddle your heart out. Also, don’t forget to stay away from metal if there’s lightning. Finally, remember, do not attempt to ride out a storm.

All right. Stay safe. We’ll see you out on the water.

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