Chapter 1 X Personal Safety
which can be fatal. At the other extreme, when temperatures are high, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke and be life threatening especially to the very young and very old if left untreated. Heat Exhaustion Excessive sun exposure and dehydration can lead to fatigue, which can lead to fatal misjudgments on the water. Early symptoms of heat exhaustion include weakness, pale skin, headache and heavy sweating. If the victim is not treated, the skin may become hot and bright red. The victim may become delirious or disoriented, followed by a loss of consciousness (heat stroke). Left without treatment, a victim of heat exhaustion will stop sweating and then lose consciousness or suffer heat stroke. Treat heat stroke as a medical emergency and call for help. Prevent heat exhaustion by avoiding prolonged direct exposure to heat and sun. To reverse heat exhaustion, move the victim to a cooler location, cool off with damp cloths and be sure to drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Avoid diuretics such as caffeinated sodas, coffee, tea or alcohol as these drinks are dehydrating. Cold Water Immersion and Cold Water Shock Prevention Cold water immersion is associated with significant medical emergencies: cold water shock; near drowning; and hypothermia. Boaters’ chances of surviving cold water immersion depend on a number of variables. They must control their breathing, retain body heat, have sufficient flotation to keep heads above water, and have timely rescue by themselves or others. Sudden contact with cold water can cause involuntary gasping while under water, which can lead to panic, start the drowning process, and even trigger cardiac arrest and temporary paralysis. Cold water entering the ear canal can cause vertigo and disorientation, which may lead confused swimmers to venture deeper into the water. Cold water reduces body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air of the same temperature and causes impairment that can lead to fatalities. Do not intentionally enter water that is too cold. The average body tem perature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The average pool temperature is 84 to 86 degrees. Snowmelt causes some California rivers to run at temperatures between 30 and 40 degrees even during the summer. Control your breathing to avoid gasping water into your lungs. Just half a cup of water in the lungs can drown a person. Don’t panic if you fall into the water. Stay afloat with the help of a life jacket, regain control of your breathing and keep your head above the water in view of rescuers. Look for ways to increase buoyancy. If you can’t get out of the water, keep your head up and curl into a ball or huddle together with everyone facing inwards to stay afloat and keep warm. This is known as HELP, or Heat Escape lessening Positions.
California Course for Safe Boating
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