Originally Posted by prairie tuber
Assuming one is wearing a PFD, it would not make sense to remove clothing. If one is not wearing a PFD (for very important reasons such as not looking as cool while wearing PFDs, and having learned to swim as a child and are therefore really good at it - even when unconscious
) clothing such as denim jeans, heavy sweaters & particularly leather boots, will have alot of negative bouyancy.
I would suggest a different course of action. Minimise movement and DONT TRY TO MOVE BOOTS ETC. Their have been many reported cases of people dying who have tried to remove boots etc (have a look on google), in some cases the coroner has attributed this as one of the reasons for brining on hypothermia and drowning, it is a myth that this is a good idea and in fact this myth has killed.
The reasons are four fold.
1/. First you use alot of energy to remove boots while in cold water, energy you can not afford to loose.
2/. Thrashing around trying to remove boots causes air trapped in your clothing to escape, this air is key in aiding bouyancy and providing insulation. Two things that are critical to your survival.
3/. The boots themselves trap air (see above), so are not in fact negativly bouyant.
4/. The boots provide a layer of insualtion.
The exception is when boots etc are hampering you from climbing out of the water or back into/onto a boat.