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Old 26 May 2017, 04:55   #1
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Don't swim, just float

Anyone who has done a sea survival course will know about cold shock, but have you thought about what you'd actually do if you went overboard?

Floating is better than swimming for increasing sea survival, says RNLI - BBC News
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Old 26 May 2017, 05:48   #2
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I had always thought that to float on your back with your feet facing the waves was the best way to survive. Relaxing is important and keeping your head right back with your stomach pushing upwards.

Some recommend keeping the back your head towards the waves, I believe.
(just waiting for different points of view)
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Old 26 May 2017, 16:16   #3
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I seem to recall once being told that adopting a feotal position was best as it minimised the loss of heat from the body.

It probably depends on sea state, temperature, what you are wearing and whether luck is with you that day.
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Old 26 May 2017, 17:37   #4
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Keep your feet crossed at the ankles and keep your arms tucked into your sides,
and let your lifejacket do the work.
You are wearing your lifejacket ?...yes of course you are.
If you try to swim you will lose heat and you will end up loosening
the straps on your lifejacket. You will float lower in the water.
The spray hood on the lifejacket will come into its own about now.
You were wearing a lifejacket when you went overboard right?

Sea survival courses are great, I recommend you do one.
The swimming pool is no substitute for open sea, but the H and S
paperwork on dropping people off the back of a boat and leaving them
behind in the interests of education
Sea conditions will dictate what happens to you if you find yourself
alone in the water. Best not to put yourself there in the first place,
but if you do, make sure you have some robust way of attracting
attention to yourself, and make sure its firmly attached.
I have found a PLB to be a thoroughly worthwhile investment.
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Old 01 June 2017, 11:48   #5
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I saw this a few months ago when it made the news for some reason. It had me thinking as it mirrors what I was taught in survival courses when in the Navy.

But....it seems at odds with my experience as a cold water swimmer. We swim through the winter skins (no wetsuit) both in the sea (warmer) or in lakes or lochs (much colder). In fact I swam an 'ice mile' in Iceland last winter in water just under 2 Deg C. One of the 'golden rules' of cold water swimming is to keep moving and to swim at your own pace. Hypothermia is always a heartbeat away and faffing about or waiting for a slower swimmer (or dropping to their pace) puts you in the danger zone.

I guess the difference is when we swim in water that cold we are only looking to 'survive' 30-40mins before getting out. In a true survival situation you would be wearing more making swimming pretty useless and more exhausting and you also have the potential to warm up the water trapped in your clothing and keep it there. You are also needing to set yourself up to survive longer than just the 30 odd minutes.
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Old 01 June 2017, 16:06   #6
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Convert - that and presumably you trained and worked up (down) to those temperatures. Advice can only ever really be aimed at normal people who aren't used to it and are probably nowhere near as fit.
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Old 01 June 2017, 16:35   #7
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I saw this on tv and recall this was the first part of a survival strategy in an overboard situation, aimed to get over the initial cold water shock and control breathing.
I'm sure the situation would dictate if you did go overboard whilst lone boating, the kill cord has done its job and your craft is slowly drifting away. I know what I would try and do!
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Old 01 June 2017, 16:38   #8
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This is good stuff. One point I'd like to add beyond PFDs is having space blankets available - and almost any RIB being discussed here would have room for at least one with your flares. You do carry flares, right?
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Old 01 June 2017, 17:23   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by refugio View Post
having space blankets available
Have you ever used one "in anger" - whilst they are easy to accommodate they may be leading you into a false sense of security - because they are pretty rubbish indoors, never mind on the open deck of a boat. TPAs would be better, or my preference is a small KISU/Bothy Bag.

Quote:
You do carry flares, right?
thinking here seems to increasingly be that traditional flares may be more hassle that benefit.
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Old 02 June 2017, 01:11   #10
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I have a recurring nightmare about being pitched back into the water whilst still in a tpa. Agreed though that they are much better than the silver foil blankets - blizzard bags are good. I have only ever tried to use a foil blanket once in anger in extreme weather and it shredded to bits in seconds.

Interested that flares are considered 'hassle' by some. Not heard/considered that before.
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Old 02 June 2017, 02:15   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poly View Post
Advice can only ever really be aimed at normal people who aren't used to it and are probably nowhere near as fit.
Perhaps that is the problem Poly ?.. its impossible to say what a normal person is or even a normal circumstance is ?

Personally I don’t think the RYA message in the above link is to adopt a stationary floating position until rescued? If it is .. why do they say in the text in the link posted ...

“The RNLI's advice is to float for about 60-to-90 seconds if you fall in water - the time it takes for the effects of the cold shock to pass and to regain control of breathing.”

And again say in the video in the link posted ...

“If you fall in the water .. Lean back to float to keep your airway clear ..keep calm and maintain breathing levels..float for about 60-90 seconds to allow cold water shock to pass ..you should then be in a better position to swim to safety or call for help.”

I think the RYA advice given .. is to float until cold water shock passes.. then do what is required to survive.?

I can understand follow the sea survival code of staying still and afloat ..if the person was alone and in deep water far from any land or possible safety of a boat. However I doubt that is a normal circumstance to be in such a remote situation?

IMO it could be misleading advice to perhaps ..a normal person.. in a normal circumstance.. who may be a shore fisherman falling off rocks into the sea who could swim to safety..it may be a SIBBer who could swim after his SIB and rescue himself. It may be a kayaker who could re enter his kayak.. and carry on.

Which is why I think it is important to try to point out my interpretation of the RYA advice in the link provided. Of course .. Its only my opinion and could be wrong.

I do have personal experience of being dumped in a very cold sea off Millport in freezing cold December weather. I was trapped in a kayak..upside down..I was very overweight and very unfit at the time ..so had trouble getting out the kayak quickly and certainly not healthy enough to clamber back into it once I was free and the kayak righted again.

I swam for shore which was less than 1/2 a mile away. The wind was blowing me onto it to assist my efforts...and I also hung onto the back of another guy's kayak as he paddled for shore

I was in the water for appox 10 minutes and could feel hypothermia effects as soon as I got onto land. It wasn’t the water temperature that was killing me..it was a bitter cold north wind..and wet clothing. I quickly started to stagger and slur my words.

There is not a doubt in my mind that a survival bag saved me that day. I was with two friends who were also in kayaks. They wrapped me in the bag.. gave me dry cloths.. and hot coffee from a flask.

I would advise any boat to carry a survival bag..(it can be as simple as a large poly bag) If someone falls into the water from your RIB..you get them back on board.. but unless you can keep them out a cold wind .. hypothermia can still kill.

With hindsight and in my own circumstance ..I would swim ashore any day rather than follow the advice of floating until rescue arrived. I may not have been here to write this today if I followed that advice.

My opinion only.. but I survived. I wonder if any of you have actually fallen in freezing water accidentally and in anger.. Ignored your instinct to swim to safety... and floated until rescued? I would love to hear your version
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Old 02 June 2017, 03:57   #12
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Convert - have a look for the most recent "disposing of flares" thread (within the last two weeks). I was surprised at how many people (and people who I consider to be reasonably competent and well informed) have transitioned to electronic only approaches, and there is a link there to RYA advice which is supportive of that approach in some circumstances.

Gurnard - I'd agree with that. The "sea survival" advice is also not to try to move around excessively but that is targeted at those who are in that delayed rescue situation waiting for external help. The one thing I would say is that for those who wear Life Jackets rather than PFDs swimming any distance is a whole new challenge.

Quote:
I have only ever tried to use a foil blanket once in anger in extreme weather and it shredded to bits in seconds.
I would strongly support this. In fact I'd say that anyone who believes it will be still better than nothing and provide some warmth should so try the following. Take your blanket, on a breezy day when you'd normally wear a decent jacket. Go outside to in shorts and t-shirt and stand around for 10 minutes until you start to feel cold. Take your blanket (if you've had the same blanket for 10 yrs its probably disintegrated at the folds and you now just have radar chaff!). Take the new blanket and wrap yourself up in it as best you can. After a few minutes realising you aren't warming up try lying on the ground in it - because when casualties get really bad they are usually lying down. You will now feel yourself getting even colder - and I suggest you go inside put on some more clothes and get a hot drink, and then order yourself a blizzard bag, survival bag, TPA or my personal preference something like this (http://www.karrimor.com/karrimor-bothy-bag-781141)*.

You lose heat radiatively, by conduction and convection. Foil blankets might reduce the radiative loss (but not east to cover your head where you loose disproportionately more heat), but are too thin (and conductive metal coated) to have any useful effect on conduction - when you are lying down, and too flimsy and flappy to be much use are preventing the air flow and thus convection cooling. When wet conduction and convection are much bigger problems than radiation anyway.

* If you repeat the exercise with two dry people in suitable sized both bag used the way it is designed, then after 20 minutes inside it you will be wanting to come out and cool down!
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Old 02 June 2017, 07:01   #13
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Not so much of a problem this side of the pond, often we are in the water 8hrs in a day.
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Old 02 June 2017, 08:58   #14
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we have flares and a vhf radio in a water proof container in a bum bag around our waists

held with a lanyard this works I have tried it 10miles offshore
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Old 02 June 2017, 09:31   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poly View Post
Have you ever used one "in anger" - whilst they are easy to accommodate they may be leading you into a false sense of security - because they are pretty rubbish indoors, never mind on the open deck of a boat. TPAs would be better, or my preference is a small KISU/Bothy Bag.
Guilty, and thanks for that pointer to Bothy bags. I think my use case is a bit different than yours - my RIB is a tender to my larger vessel - but I need to do a little more research on this.

The "ShipMedical" app I carry on my iPhone says "Enclose the survivor in a plastic bag or blankets or preferably both. It is important that the head, but not the face, is well covered...Conscious survivors suffering from hypothermia should be laid on their side and, whenever possible, in a slightly head-down attitude".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poly View Post
thinking here seems to increasingly be that traditional flares may be more hassle that benefit.
Well, the thinking here (in the US) is that flares are legally required by the USCG. True, the USCG safety requirements are woefully out of date, but you can still get a ticket for not having them. The new hotness is the electronic flare - but I haven't heard of the trade-off you're talking about.
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Old 02 June 2017, 16:31   #16
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Guilty, and thanks for that pointer to Bothy bags. I think my use case is a bit different than yours - my RIB is a tender to my larger vessel - but I need to do a little more research on this.
yes possibly a bit different - I like the both bags for use ashore too - depending where/what you are exploring. I like to bring it ashore with me in my dry bag as I have a weird paranoia that the rib will drift off and leave me like Robinson Crusoe!
Quote:
Well, the thinking here (in the US) is that flares are legally required by the USCG. True, the USCG safety requirements are woefully out of date, but you can still get a ticket for not having them. The new hotness is the electronic flare - but I haven't heard of the trade-off you're talking about.
Only legally required here for commercial vessels.
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