Personal Watercraft Safety Course
Your body temperature can drop quickly if your PWC capsizes and you are in cold water. Get as far out of the water as possible by righting the PWC and climbing back onboard, or if it will not right, try to climb onto the hull. This may help prevent heat loss from your body, especially if the temperature is warm and the winds are calm. 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. Before going out on the water, make sure everyone is wearing a properly fitted life jacket with an attached whistle that works when wet. Stages of Cold Water Shock and Critical Responses Cold shock: You have one minute to adjust to the cold shock response. Remember, control your breathing and don’t panic.
Meaningful activity: You have about 10 minutes of effective movement, so first assess your situation, locate other party members, attempt self-rescue, and perform emergency communication and signaling.
Useful consciousness: You have one hour in cold water before becoming hypothermic and unconscious to focus on heat loss prevention (HELP); increase buoyancy and use a communication device such as an emergency locator beacon, waterproof marine VHF radio, cell phone in a waterproof case, whistle, mirror or small flares. Hypothermia: After one hour of cold water immersion, the body core cooling leads to loss of consciousness from hypothermia.
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