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Author Topic: Surviving cold water  (Read 5969 times)

Offline taildragger

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Surviving cold water
« on: December 15, 2008, 10:44:58 am »
Hi Everyone,

This is an excellent ice safety video by Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht from U. of Manitoba!  Check it out, it's a must-see for all of us, and our children, that live in the North.  Here's the website:

http://www.yukonman.com/cold_water.asp

In particular, check out the video titled "Ice Water Immersion".  This guy is an animal!

Offline Rob

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2008, 11:11:10 am »
Dr Freeze is what the kids call him. He was on the Rick Mercer Report a few years ago.
Colder is better

Offline dks

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2008, 01:43:50 pm »
I think it is a valuable experience for anyone to submerge themselves  in cold water once in their life. I did a polar bear dip on New Year's Day a few years ago and it was a great learning experience. I think any future cold water shock will still be hard, but, at least I would be less surprised. Yup, damn cold.

Offline HOOP

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2008, 10:21:56 pm »
Hi Taildragger,

We have that link in our Safety section of the main site content.   (at least we used to - I'll have to check and see if the link is still active).

Sadly, Dr. Giesbrecht has left the field and has moved on to other studies and is no longer working in cold physiology research, nor at U of M.   
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline JAK

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2008, 03:08:49 pm »
From my cold water sailing and paddling experience I've always held the view that we should practice getting wet, everytime we go out on the water. Most kayakers don't seem to share this view, though it is common amongst dinghy sailors and sailboarders, usually out of neccessity. This includes sailing and paddling on the Bay of Fundy, which is 2degC to 12degC depending on the time of the year. Obviously you have to avoid storms in winter, but in winter you should still be prepared to get wet. I have not extended this principle to skating and skiing and iceboating on solid ice. Perhaps I should. I try to think I am prepared to go through, but I never have. Frankly, the thought scares the crap out of me, not so much being in the water, but going under the ice. Perhaps I should do some controlled testing, or at least think about it.

Those ice picks shown on the equipment pages of this site are a great idea. I have used those in the past iceboating, having learned it from the Nova Scotian iceboaters, but I should use them for everything I do out there, especially skating, since skates are heavy and pretty near impossible to remove. Cross country skiing I have relied on using the pole ends, but have never tested this. The video is very instructive. The idea of having sufficient bouyancy, and also not having too much water absorption, makes alot of sense. It makes the most sense for snowmobiling I suppose, because you would have further to swim, but its something to keep in mind for all such activities. I've always mixed wool and fleece with this in mind, from my sailing and paddling experience. As much as I love wool, I think you can have too much of it, especially on your legs and arms. I don't believe in blending wool, but I think its good to mix wool layers with other layers. I think it makes sense to avoid double shelled clothing that can gain too much volume when immersed. Having a shell on to reduce water exchange is useful however, and having something you can quickly put on your head and hands, even while in the water, makes alot of sense also. When I sail and paddle in winter I don't always wear the thickest gloves and headgear, but I keep them handy. For simple skiing or skating on the river I don't think it is neccessary to carry thick neoprene divers gear for hands and head like I do for sailing and paddling, but I think having mitts and headgear very hand that includes a shell, or hood, makes sense, and you should always ask yourself if you are prepared to swim before you go out on the ice, not matter how thick it is.

When its really wicked cold the ice it usually thicker, and so thicker winter clothing might be ok, but on most winter days you don't need to have too much clothing on, so you can probably afford to make it more suitable for an unexpected swim, rather than an arctic trek. Some wool, some fleece, some shell is good for this, and even coverage including hands and head. The other thing to keep in mind would be the clothes you would want to change into, assuming you rescue your pack, and keeping them waterproof, and being able to make a fire quickly, with frozen hands. These sorts of things can be practices without actually going in. Even without getting my hands wet I've had a wicked time making a fire when its really cold. Good thing to keep in mind and keep in practice, and to keep in your pocket rather than your pack, warm mitts as well as waterproof matches and tinder. If you need to get anything out of your pack or from the woods when you stop for tea that worth considering. You can always get fresh fuel and tinder for your next fire after you've made your tea. Just some thoughts. My Kelly Kettle doesn't fit in my pocket, but some other things do so at least those could be there I guess.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 03:11:45 pm by JAK »

Offline Ted

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2008, 05:00:32 pm »
As Hoop has said, Dr. Giesbrecht has moved on and is now the President of Horizon College, a Christian College specializing in degrees in theology and teaching/training pastors. He really made a difference in the way hypothermia is treated and it was a real joy to sit in on some of his lectures and presentations.

I still don't have what it takes to jump into a hole in the ice like Giesbrecht and several others have suggested. Maybe next year  ::) 
(Purposefully dumping my canoe in spring water is the most I've been able to talk myself into.) 

cheers Ted
« Last Edit: December 18, 2008, 05:02:23 pm by Ted »
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Offline HOOP

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2008, 10:21:48 pm »
I actually have taken the plunge.  We did it for work as part of our "working on ice" safety training.   They cut the hole in the ice and we jumped in.  However we used Ice Rider snowmobile suits (coat and pants), which is standard garb for snowmobiling.   The day was about -10 which is not extreme.   

With Ice Rider clothing on, there is no hard shock when you jump into the water.  The water seeps in.  You bob like a cork horizontal, so that's one of the reasons the water seeps in slowly.  The air pressure actually kept my Sorels dry.  You can haul yourself up on the ice with ice picks easily like a seal.   Then you roll in the snow.   When I stood up is when all the water ran down into my boots.

The suit, as advertised, also insulates even when wet.

The problem with an Ice Rider suit is that you can't do any work in it.  It is impractical for anything but sitting on a machine or ice fishing.  As soon as you do any work you sweat like a horse and get clammy and cold.   
My Youtube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/Wintertrekker

"I firmly believe that far from hurting the planet, the growing knowledge of Bushcraft is helping our natural world. When we employ bushcraft skills, it may seem as though we are consuming natural resources.  But of course, the more we learn about the trees, the plants, the animals around us, the more we respect them. The more we respect them, the more we cherish them, the more we nurture and take care of them. That is the underlying principle of Bushcraft.

Offline Georgi

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2008, 11:02:47 pm »
I'll take my chances to wait another fall into ice water, other than that the earliest I've been swimming is April and there was no way I wanted to be in there any longer than necessary to have a quick bath.
IN ICE WE TRUST ,In Snow we must, go camp in frozen Country. With axe and Saw for Timber is Law, to make our homes more comfy
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Offline Tomd

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2008, 01:34:02 am »
Dr Freeze is what the kids call him. He was on the Rick Mercer Report a few years ago.

Sorry about the thread drift, but Rick Mercer? Is he the guy who did the "How to talk to Americans"?  If so, I heard some of it and it was hilarious, and I'm an American or a Yank or whatever you guys call us up there. The interview I heard, he was having on some tourists about Canada getting its first McDonalds and they were like "really? Well congratulations." It was pretty darn funny. This was a couple of years ago, but I'm pretty sure you have them everywhere, even then.

Offline JAK

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2008, 07:52:27 am »
Dr Freeze is what the kids call him. He was on the Rick Mercer Report a few years ago.

Sorry about the thread drift, but Rick Mercer? Is he the guy who did the "How to talk to Americans"?  If so, I heard some of it and it was hilarious, and I'm an American or a Yank or whatever you guys call us up there. The interview I heard, he was having on some tourists about Canada getting its first McDonalds and they were like "really? Well congratulations." It was pretty darn funny. This was a couple of years ago, but I'm pretty sure you have them everywhere, even then.
You oughta try their MacBacBacon ! ;)

Offline cousin Pete

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2009, 05:36:25 pm »
Hello taildragger:  Thanks for the links to watch the videos by Dr. Giesbrecht.  I think that I saw the first one before.  They were very informative. 

Take care,
Jonn's cousin Pete
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Offline lonegreeneagle

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2009, 05:50:52 pm »
            Hello Gentleman and Ladies,
Today we are willing to face our greatest fear compounded! It's how I start every class in Arctic survival and my intro to canoeing classes. In my canoe class we start with PFD confidence and self rescue from a turn over. In AS in winter I conduct it in a pool, in summer, the coldest lake/pond I can find. Staying afloat in any situation is the greatest human fear and experience will get you through the real deal.
     If given the opportunity with Medics and warming tents on hand I take the plunge! The initial reaction and relaxing aren't possible in your mind and that is why I dive in when I can. I put myself in this possible position every time I'm outdoors, so why not practice to prevent my death.
      Freezing/ drowning leaves so much fear it is hard to solo survive, My act of stupidity was an act of impatience. I was ahead of my group on recon. I fell through a deep streams ice in the Yukon training area in Alaska. I don't know or remember the temp. All I could do was freeze my gloved hands to the ice, pull my knees up close and pray. What compounded this for me was the time. About 3am! The sun was up when I woke up in a GP small tent and two fellow Rangers in my improvised sleeping bag.  Male insecurity puts more survivors at risk than the hypothermia itself.  I'm still here because two men put my life over masculinity!
« Last Edit: November 18, 2009, 07:29:08 pm by HOOP »
Avid outdoorsman? My son and I snowshoe and winter camp with a four season tent and no stove. When my daughter comes along we drag sleds holding the campfire style tent I made and my military style Yukon stove. We canoe and kayak long trips in the early spring till Thanksgiving. That's my son's and my last float of the canoe season as we celebrate his birthday.  My daughter more than my son loves climbing. My sore neck!
Along with the tent, I've made packs,paddles and the poor man's RV from an 18' boat trailer. It now carries our canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes, camping ger and the TeePee pole

Offline Mike

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Re: Surviving cold water
« Reply #12 on: November 19, 2009, 06:05:58 am »
You are lucky. Glad you made it and welcome back.
Mike