3 Phases of Hypothermia

We do cover this in class but this is the time of year people are getting excited and want to get out on the boat early so here we go. By the way, I just checked and the water temperature today is 37 degrees.

The three phases of Hypothermia are:

1 Cold Shock Response

2 Cold Incapacitation

3 Hypothermia

Did you know that the waters in Connecticut are cold? I’m sure you said yes but did you realize that water temperatures don’t break @72 degrees yearly. Someone with a slight build can reach phase three, the hypothermia stage, in as little as 2 1/2 hours in 70-degree water. This is something a vessel operator in the Northeast should always be aware of.

Here is a little tip: A person has about 45 minutes in 45-degree water. Give or take 5 degrees then give or take 15 minutes. So today March 21st, 2019 in Long Island Sound with a water temperature of 37 degrees, you could be unconscious in as little as 15-20 minutes.

1 Cold Shock Response is the reaction of the individual taking a huge gasp of air when they hit the water accompanied by hyperventilation with a rapid increase in heartbeat and blood pressure. People are more likely to die because of this reaction they are from Hypothermia itself. This “gasp” is prominent when waters are below 60 degrees…that’s about 90 percent of our New England year guys. If you get past this phase, the symptoms pass in about a minute.

2 Cold Incapacitation occurs anywhere from 10-120 minutes pending the temperature of the water. This phase affects muscle control and loss of use through the extremities. We’ll lose control of our fingers, arms, toes, and legs. Any kind of self-rescue should be taking place before Cold Water Incapacitation sets in

3 Hypothermia is the full loss of consciousness and can occur anywhere from 15 to 180 minutes. Symptoms are shivering in the early stages, lack of shivering in the later stages accompanied by dizziness, impaired judgment, numbness and slipping in and out of consciousness. Assume the HELP position to keep as warm as possible for as long as possible. REMINDER: You cannot assume the HELP position without a life jacket on.

For more go to the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Page “Perils of Cold Water”