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Responding to Boating Emergencies: Cold Water Immersion, Hypothermia, and Wind Chill

May 7th, 2014

2“Hypothermia” is a drop in body temperature below the normal level that most frequently develops from exposure to abnormally low temperatures such as:

  • immersion in cold water,
  • exposure to cool air in water-soaked clothing, or
  • prolonged exposure to low environmental temperatures.

Approximately 90 per cent of all persons who drown in recreational boating incidents were not wearing a flotation device. A personal floatation device (PFD) is the best insurance you can have. Checkout immersionsuits and find out why these emergencies are very critical.

Boaters in northern climates such a Canada’s typically cold waters should be aware of the risk of Hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold weather, particularly in water-soaked clothing, or from direct immersion. The following signs and symptoms represent the impact on the mental and muscle functions of the persons exposed to hypothermia as it progresses:

  • shivering and slurred speech, conscious but withdrawn at the early stage;
  • slow and weak pulse, slow respiration, lacks coordination, irrational, confused and sleepy at intermediate stage;
  • weak, irregular or absent pulse or respiration, loss of consciousness at final stage.

Swimmer Rescue Device – Beach Pier Launched Flotation

May 7th, 2014

As a lover of the coast, I enjoy living on the beach. The other day while I was taking my jog, I was daydreaming, as I walked out onto the nearby pier. I saw the kids playing, and realized there was a rip tide not more than about 50 yards from them. The lifeguard was not on duty, because quite frankly, the water was probably pretty cold this time of year, but perhaps these kids were from Chicagoland, coming to California on vacation. In that case the water was plenty warm for them.

Nevertheless, I considered what might happen if one of those kids got swept out to sea into the Pacific Ocean from that riptide. Would there be a way to throw them a floating device to save them from drowning? Would they be on their own and have to swim back to shore from a rather far distance from the rip-head, it might even be perhaps out a few hundred yards, although I don’t know for sure.

What if we could develop a swimmer rescue device which was actually launched from the pier? What if the lifeguard station had a pointing device, and a wireless communication link to the flotation device which could be launched from one of the pier pilings? If that were possible it could pinpoint the location of the swimmer based on the line of sight laser pointed at the drowning swimmer. The system could also configure the wind component, and adjust for that as well.

trainingThe rescue flotation device would then be launched in the direction of the swimmer, and once it hit the water it would inflate. Since it would land very near the swimmer, perhaps even right next to them, all they need to do is reach out and grab it, and that would give the lifeguard time to swim out there, or they could just float on that device into the surf and onto the shore. Would this be difficult to build and engineer? Of course not, and it has many other applications as well.

Cold-Water Wreck Diving Tips For Caribbean Divers

May 7th, 2014

Have you done much cold-water wreck diving? If you’re used to Caribbean diving, this is a whole different experience. You’re going to want to get trained and certified for drysuit, and you’ll want to either buy one (check eBay), or find a shop that has one for rent in your size. You can try, but it’s really hard to rent a drysuit. If not integrated in your drysuit, you’ll also need a hood, gloves, and boots. If the conditions are just right, you might get away with a 7mm wetsuit on shallower dives, but when the water temps at depth get down into the 60s, 50s, and even 40s, you’ll be uncomfortable without a drysuit. You’ll need open-heel fins (slipper fins don’t work well with boots), main and backup lights, a tank light, and a wreck reel. Signaling devices are also a good idea, such as a safety sausage or a whistle. Many wreck divers carry a knife or shears, too, in case of entanglement. If you want to do more serious wreck penetrations, you should train for Wreck certification, too – you’ll live longer.

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I’m not some serious, expert, North Atlantic wreck diver – I’ve only done two 2-tank excursions here in the NY Metro Area, and three dives one day in Lake Michigan (which is surprisingly similar), but I’ve logged over a third of my 91 dives at a cold local quarry called Dutch Springs, plus two at another quarry called Brownstone. I’ve also done the PADI advanced and Rescue courses, and completed the specialties to earn PADI’s Master SCUBA Diver certification, but I have no professional or technical training. I know I’m only a couple of North Atlantic wreck dives ahead of the rank beginners, but from my experience, I have two suggestions…

First, I’ve seen some rank beginner OW divers get into circumstances beyond their comfort level, and it makes for an unenjoyable (if not dangerous) situation for them. Education and experience will always be an advantage. Don’t stop at OW – take AOW certification – it’s not a terribly brilliant course of study, but it will give you experience in five different skill areas. U/Nav taught me to check my compass periodically, keep track of my surroundings and landmarks, and measure distance by time, air pressure, or fin kicks; until then, I always used to just blindly follow a dive master like a tour guide – it made me more self-reliant. Wreck taught me to lay and take up a line, ways to avoid stirring up silt, and to be aware of situational hazards. Drysuit and PPB taught me how to better control my buoyancy and trim. Night taught me to use lights and signals, and to be comfortable in low-visibility environments – it made me more confident. Deep, Multi-Level, Altitude, and Nitrox helped me understand more about the physiological effects of diving – awareness of my own body and mind help me prioritize and make better conscious choices, even while stressed, rather than let situations own me.

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