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Course Outline

For each of these additional causes of drowning, one or more solutions for trying to prevent drowning are given.

Using alcohol and/or drugs

Remember that alcohol and water do not mix. Just because you are not drinking does not mean that the other boaters on the water are not. Always watch for unsafe boat operations or acts and report them to law enforcement personnel.

  • In 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard found that alcohol was a contributing factor in 19% (almost 1 in 5 deaths) of fatal boating accidents.
  • The CDC indicates that alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation among adolescents and adults.

Understanding the effects of cold water immersion

According to Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht, you should remember the 1-10-1 rule to understand how cold water immersion affects a person who has fallen into cold water.

  • 1 minute: The Cold Shock phase can last for about 1 minute. It causes immediate deep and sudden gasping followed by hyperventilation.
  • 10 minutes: During the Cold Incapacitation phases, the person has about 10 minutes before he or she loses purposeful movement of fingers and limbs. This will affect the person’s ability to self-rescue.
  • 1 hour: In the Hypothermia phase, the person has 1 hour before becoming unconscious due to hypothermia. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it produces heat, cooling the organs in the core of the body.

For more information on the 1-10-1 rule, visit the Cold Water Boot Camp website.

Taking precautions to survive immersion in cold water. Critical factors include:

  • Wearing a USCG–approved PFD in accordance with its label
  • Dressing for the weather and water conditions
  • Using the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P) or huddle position to reduce body heat loss
  • Filing a float plan (where you are going and specific information regarding the trip)
  • Having and knowing how to use water rescue devices and equipment
  • Being able to communicate with the Emergency Response System (9-1-1)
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