Thin ice and cold water boating accidents result in cold water immersion – a serious danger of winter in the out doors. Dr Gordon Giesbrecht coined the phrase 1-10-1 to describe the three critical phases of cold water immersion:
1 – Cold Shock
An initial deep and sudden Gasp followed by hyperventilation that can be as much as 600-1000% greater than normal breathing. You must keep your airway clear or run the risk of drowning. Cold Shock will pass in about 1 minute. During that time concentrate on avoiding panic and getting control of your breathing. Wearing a lifejacket during this phase is critically important to keep you afloat and breathing.
10 – Cold Incapacitation
Over approximately the next 10 minutes you will lose the effective use of your fingers, arms and legs for any meaningful movement. Concentrate on self rescue initially, and if that isn’t possible, prepare to have a way to keep your airway clear to wait for rescue. Swim failure will occur within these critical minutes and if you are in the water without a lifejacket, drowning will likely occur.
1 – HYPOTHERMIA
Even in ice water it could take approximately 1 hour before becoming unconscious due to hypothermia. If you understand the aspects of hypothermia, techniques of how to delay it, self rescue and calling for help, your chances of survival and rescue will be dramatically increased.
Heres a video of Giesbrecht himself jumping into a hole in the ice to demonstrate 1-10-1 and rescue techniques (talk about commitment!):