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Cold Water

In this section, you'll learn all about cold water and why it's dangerous.

A young boy child is looking distressed as he swims in the murky water of a lake while wea

Because of cold shock, falling into cold water without the protection of a wetsuit or drysuit is immediately life-threatening. But at what temperature does that happen?


Incapacitation - losing the use of your hands and then your arms and legs - can also happen very quickly. And unless you can get out of the water within roughly 30 minutes, hypothermia starts to become a survival threat.


We discuss these threats in detail in the sections below. We also explain why some people cool faster than others, and how a person can get used to cold water – a process called acclimation.  We also examine the difference between cold water lab research and the more intense experience of real victims who are fighting for their lives. 

About our Information

A lot of misinformation about cold water safety can be found in books, magazine articles, news stories, videos, instruction manuals, courses, and the internet. How are you supposed to decide what to believe?  We want you to to know where we get the information that's on our website - so you can be confident about its accuracy.

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