If you cannot get out of the water quickly, act to protect against rapid heat loss. In as few as 10 minutes, you may be unable to self-rescue.

When a victim has these symptoms, dry clothing, heat, and medical attention are required immediately:

  • Bluish-white appearance
  • Weak heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing
  • Rigid body muscles
  • May be unconscious
  • Stay as motionless as possible, protecting the high heat loss areas of your body, and keep your head and neck out of the water.
  • Safety typically looks closer than it actually is, so staying with the boat is usually a better choice than swimming.
  • Adopt a position to reduce heat loss. If alone, use the (Heat Escape Lessening Posture) HELP position; or if there are others in the water with you, huddle together.

Be prepared at all times to signal rescuers.

HELP: Heat Escape Lessening Posture
HELP
Heat Escape Lessening Posture
HUDDLE technique for conserving body heat when in water
Huddle
Retains body heat and increases survival time