When the weather is nice and the water seems fine, is hypothermia really an issue? The answer might surprise you.
Water conducts the heat away from a human body about 25 times faster than air – and hypothermia is not just a cold water danger. Even when the sky is bright and the air is warm, the water can actually be well below the ambient temperature around you.
It’s all about how fast your body temperature can fall
Hypothermia is basically a low body temperature, and that’s actually a medical emergency. When it’s untreated, hypothermia can ultimately be fatal. Even if a hypothermia victim is rescued prior to their death, they can suffer from kidney failure, liver damage, cardiac arrest and coma.
How fast can hypothermia happen? If you fall into water:
- Between 70 and 80 degrees: You can survive for as long as 12 hours, or you could be unconscious in three.
- Between 60 and 70 degrees: You would only be able to remain conscious between two and seven hours.
- Between 50 and 60 degrees: You could end up slipping into a coma within an hour or two.
In other words, the water doesn’t have to be very cold for hypothermia to set in.
It’s important to realize that adrenaline can mask the symptoms of hypothermia. If someone is pulled out of the water after a significant length of time, the best thing to do is to make certain they are given dry clothing and insulted with warm blankets right away – even if they initially seem to be fine. It’s also smart to be alert to symptoms of hypothermia, including shivering, chattering teeth, slurred speech, confusion, generalized weakness and fatigue.
Hypothermia is a real possibility among maritime workers who end up overboard due to a slip and fall or some other accident, and the consequences of the experience can be life-altering. If you were injured or a loved one was killed as a result of hypothermia, you have a right to benefits under maritime law. Learning more about the claims process by seeking legal guidance can help.