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There are four stages of cold water immersion.

  • Stage 3 or long-term immersion hypothermia happens after 30 minutes or more. Cold water pulls heat from the body, and the body’s core temperature drops. This eventually leads to loss of consciousness and death.
  • Stage 4 or post-immersion collapse can happen during or after rescue. A drop in blood pressure can lead to cardiac arrest.
Chart showing stages of cold water immersion