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#6481618 - 10/05/16 08:10 AM Cold Water Survival?
Misfire Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 610
Loc: Hood County
With duck season fast approaching I've been spending some time getting my gear ready for the upcoming season. While taking inventory of all the things I carry with me in the boat I got to thinking about cold water survival gear. To be honest, I'm ill prepared for a cold water swim. My typical hunting wardrobe is neoprene chest waders with built in boots, heavy jacket, gloves, face mask, beanie/hat, life jacket and safety lanyard as I'm traveling across the water. I'm not sure how this clothing selection would fare in the event that I ended up in the drink or how insulated I would be after making it back into the boat. I was thinking about those guys that died last year in OK and wondered what they could have done differently or what gear they could have had that would have made the difference for them...or anyone else that finds themselves in a similar or worse situation.

Does anyone have any experience or advice on how to best prepare for the worst case scenario in hypothermic conditions?


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"Mind bottling isn't it?" -Chazz Michael Michaels

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#6481625 - 10/05/16 08:14 AM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
redchevy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23452
Loc: Texas
I would keep an insulated hunting suit in the boat somewhere. If you fall in and get back out strip down and put suit on. I have had to do that before.

I think in texas being stranded in the water wouldn't be so bad water temps are probably not that low.
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#6481690 - 10/05/16 08:56 AM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
Judd Offline


Registered: 01/22/09
Posts: 10762
Loc: Sachse, TX
Originally Posted By: Misfire
I was thinking about those guys that died last year in OK and wondered what they could have done differently or what gear they could have had that would have made the difference for them...or anyone else that finds themselves in a similar or worse situation.


They could have stayed home or at the very least avoided the open water. That storm was predicted and they knew what they were doing was stupid but did it anyway...unfortunately that decision they paid with their life.

Always have a backup plan of somewhere to hunt that you can get to via a protected method (cove, river, etc).
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#6481710 - 10/05/16 09:02 AM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
ZachW Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 10/11/13
Posts: 183
Loc: Texas, TX
Unfortunately, Outside of wearing a very thick wet suit under your gear (which would be pretty impractical) I'm not sure those guys could have done much differently other than not going out on a small boat in a big storm.

The water temp required for hypothermia is shockingly high and your time until lethal exposure goes up greatly when swimming. Add to that you're freaked out, likely in rough water, and any swim over a few hundred yards is going to feel like a very long ways.

Here's a pic below from a USCG presentation on cold water survival showing median survial time at different water temps performing different activities.




My advice: keep a dry bag in your boat with some dry clothes, wear a PFD, and don't capsize...

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#6481716 - 10/05/16 09:03 AM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Judd]
ZachW Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 10/11/13
Posts: 183
Loc: Texas, TX
Originally Posted By: Judd
They could have stayed home or at the very least avoided the open water. That storm was predicted and they knew what they were doing was stupid but did it anyway...unfortunately that decision they paid with their life.


I didn't see your post when I was typing mine, but I agree with this.


Edited by ZachW (10/05/16 09:56 AM)

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#6481854 - 10/05/16 10:21 AM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
Teamjefe Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 239
Space blankets
waterproof fire starters
waterproof tinder for fire

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#6482455 - 10/05/16 04:10 PM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: ZachW]
MoBettaHuntR Offline
Tracker

Registered: 10/29/14
Posts: 669
Loc: West is the best...
Originally Posted By: ZachW
Unfortunately, Outside of wearing a very thick wet suit under your gear (which would be pretty impractical) I'm not sure those guys could have done much differently other than not going out on a small boat in a big storm.

The water temp required for hypothermia is shockingly high and your time until lethal exposure goes up greatly when swimming. Add to that you're freaked out, likely in rough water, and any swim over a few hundred yards is going to feel like a very long ways.

Here's a pic below from a USCG presentation on cold water survival showing median survial time at different water temps performing different activities.




My advice: keep a dry bag in your boat with some dry clothes, wear a PFD, and don't capsize...


Good advise here. Also maybe obvious but take off anything wet immediately. Naked is better than wet when freezing. Keep your heart rate up also.

I would not take view point of "I think in texas being stranded in the water wouldn't be so bad water temps are probably not that low."

This may be true in some areas or most of the time but Texas can be awfully cold and unforgiving. Not to be a weenie but even with a few hour window before hypothermic conditions set in or become lethal in average temperature waters. We all like to think it can't happen to me but I have seen very experiences folks get in bad situations. You never know when the truck won't start or you can't get dry or warm as fast as you think.

Loss of sound mind is also very common which delays recovery precautions and process. Lots of incidents occur because of another accident. Knock to the head, lost, etc. Having dealt with multiple hypothermic cases it is not something to take lightly. I also wouldn't set a watch by these times as every body is different. Body condition, muscle mass, male or female are all things to consider not too mention you never know when someone else may need help. Sunlight is also a big factor if you take a spill in the morning it is only going to get warmer, in the evening you can be in real trouble.


Waterproof bag with spare clothes and matches
Waterproof outer layer
Layering- so you can cool off or warm up-sweat is just as dangerous as water in thick winter clothes
Wool socks/hat- extremities and head can regulate body temperature tremendously
Bars of some kind -Food consumption can help regenerate lost body heat quickly.
Outer knife-Also waders can be very difficult to remove when panicked and can drown you easily keep an easily accessible knife and know your equipment.
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-Those who say money can't buy happiness never bought a dog.


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#6482921 - 10/05/16 08:50 PM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
Misfire Offline
Tracker

Registered: 02/16/11
Posts: 610
Loc: Hood County
I think we could all agree that they made a bad decision and paid an overly heavy price for it. I don't necessarily think you have to make a bad decision to wind up in a bad spot. The failure of a $1.00 boat plug or a sudden change in weather could put any one of us in a desperate situation. If I remember correctly, one of them drown and the other died from hypothermia. He survived the water and died on shore. I suppose the in the long run I was looking for suggestions that would make a difference after you have gotten out of the water. I don't know if there is much you can do if you can't get out of the water quickly.

Thanks for the comments and all the great gear suggestions!

.

_________________________
"I wanna go fast" -Ricky Bobby

"Mind bottling isn't it?" -Chazz Michael Michaels

.

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#6483171 - 10/06/16 03:06 AM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
David Maas Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 01/05/11
Posts: 3069
Loc: Ft Worth, Texas
No cotton and a wader belt, synthetic fibers layered, preferably wool or polypropylene(fleece) with a change of the same close by.

From someone who has fallen into the water @ sub 20° air temp while by themselves and luckily lived to talk about it.
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#6483565 - 10/06/16 09:49 AM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
MoBettaHuntR Offline
Tracker

Registered: 10/29/14
Posts: 669
Loc: West is the best...
Originally Posted By: Misfire
I think we could all agree that they made a bad decision and paid an overly heavy price for it. I don't necessarily think you have to make a bad decision to wind up in a bad spot. The failure of a $1.00 boat plug or a sudden change in weather could put any one of us in a desperate situation. If I remember correctly, one of them drown and the other died from hypothermia. He survived the water and died on shore. I suppose the in the long run I was looking for suggestions that would make a difference after you have gotten out of the water. I don't know if there is much you can do if you can't get out of the water quickly.

Thanks for the comments and all the great gear suggestions!

.



Same as frostbite, hypothermia is easier to prevent than it is to cure. If you do find yourself or another in a hypothermic situation
once out of freezing water:

Remove all wet clothing immediately no matter what and get dry. Shake off, wipe off, roll around on dry ground if no towel. Rub your arms and legs almost frantically to help dry and recirculate blood flow to the heart.

Find easiest available heat source first: Warm vehicle, heater, cuddle (body heat is one of the best responses), space blanket, dig a hole, fire, etc. Re-dress with dry clothes, put on warm hat, socks, gloves if available. Then use any available other heat sources to get even warmer.

Consume food and fluids hot if possible. You will not enjoy it or want it necessarily, usually have to force it down. If severe almost boiling water can feel like ice water to hypothermic victim. Gatorade, pedia-lyte, ketchup are all good to replenish with.

A hot bath is good also but only after initial recovery because you will get cold again from being wet afterwards.

Continue to eat high calorie foods and stay hydrated.
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#6484469 - 10/06/16 07:58 PM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
David Maas Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 01/05/11
Posts: 3069
Loc: Ft Worth, Texas
Probably one of the best reads, written by the owner of Sitka and a former Seal

How The Navy SEALs Prepare For Extreme Cold Weather Survival, And How You Can Too
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#6485736 - 10/07/16 06:45 PM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
Spacemonkey Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 1189
Loc: North Texas
This topic is something I've always considered important as well. I have immersed myself in wilderness survival over the years because I enjoy it. I started a similar thread last year after those guys perished.

My first priority if immersed in cold water is to get to shore and get my wet clothes off. I carry the emergency bivy by SOL, it's similar to a space blanket except fully encapsulating, so I can immediately get in it and start trying to rewarm myself. Hypothermia can inhibit your thinking and ability to make sound desisions in only a couple of minutes. It kills fast! Plus the emergency bivy can double as your shelter to keep you dry in a rain. They are far more effective than just a simple space blanket. I have used both and know from experienc the bivy works amazing and there are only about 15 bucks at academy.

Fire can be a significant boost to your warmth and morale IF you can get one going, but should not be counted on. However, shelter and water are generally considered more important. Unfavorable conditions can make a fire a challenge however. Wet material doesn't start easily. Matches can get wet, bic lighters won't work if the striker gets wet. If you have never used one I like the ferro rods made by swedish fire steel. They will work when wet. Even after immersion, but you need to practice starting fires with it prior to emergency use. They also have an emergency whistle built in.

Wet Fire tinder will also help get a fire going in wet conditions. They actually burn better and hotter when wet. The key though is finding dry tinder. Bark from the armpit of a tree and twigs that are up off the ground will have less moisture in a rain.

This plus a pocket knife I keep in the pocket of my life vest. If your boat goes down you will likely loose everything you have with you in the boat. Having it in your life vest insures it makes it to shore with you.

Cotton is the death cloth. Don't wear it. It looses all insulation value when wet and takes forever to dry. Synthetics are best with wool right behind it. They retain some insulating value when wet and are much easier to dry out.

Some basic rules of survival are:
3 minutes without air - 3 hours without shelter - 3 days without water - 3 weeks without food.

In order of importance: attitude, shelter, water, fire, food.

Granted these rules are aimed at long term survival. But most deaths occur because rescue teams are unable to locate the victims in an accident in a timely manner. Most people don't think an accident will happen, and when they do they always last longer than you would anticipate. Hours can go to days real quick. That's why I plan to save myself. I'm not leaving my survival in the hands of a search team.

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#6487246 - 10/08/16 10:16 PM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
Windrider Offline
Tracker

Registered: 09/26/06
Posts: 597
Loc: McKinney, TX
Let's not forget that sudden immersion in water below 45 can cause a heart attack from the shock to the system. It will most certainly make you involuntarily gasp at cold temperatures.

I used to do a good bit of windsurfing in some fairly extreme conditions. Ice would come off of our sails when we jibed. I've had a couple of experiences personally and helped some buddies. We always used the buddy system in those conditions.

Don't think you will have much dexterity when hypothermia starts to set in. You loose fine motor skills in your extremities first, then judgement degrades. If you are taking spare clothes make sure they are very easy to get into and have big zippers and buttons. Preferably not many buttons. Knives need to be very easy to open and be willing to cut your clothes off if the water weight causes them to be hard to deal with given your reduced capacity.
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Thought for the day: Ducks were almost hunted to extinction long before camo was invented.

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#6487833 - 10/09/16 01:42 PM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
Fishuhalik Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 03/10/14
Posts: 402
Loc: Katy, TX
As a boy who was raised hunting Minnesota waters, this rings all to close for me. If you've never heard of it, Google the Armistace Day storm. Pretty much every duck hunter that was alive during that time knew someone that died that day. My dad tells me stories passed down from my grandpa of guys huddled under their overturned duck boats, waiting to be rescued. While we aren't gonna get anything near that extreme, always have a small emergency kit packed if it's even remotely cold. Stuff goes sideways quick out there
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#6489153 - 10/10/16 12:02 PM Re: Cold Water Survival? [Re: Misfire]
SeaAggie2015 Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 04/08/16
Posts: 34
Cold water survival is all about preparedness, and risk management. By risk management I mean preventing a problem before it happens.
1- ALWAYS idle in areas of hazard. even if you have a boat that is "designed" to take a beating. Leave the house a bit earlier if you are going to a new place so you don't feel rushed to get to a spot.
2- Scout areas instead of going blind because "your buddy killed them there" yesterday. This way you know of any water hazards before you take them on at 4 a.m.
3- Understand that accidents DO happen even to the most prepared guy. I carry a duffle bag of complete change of clothes (undies and all). Most times I leave it in the truck at the ramp, but if it's a long haul, I'll take it in the boat.
4- Understand that you can get in a bind, and in a hurry. Don't wear ALL your gear while in the boat. Put it on when you get to the spot. Otherwise you risk being a human anchor. Be prepared to come OUT of the waders the minute you hit the water. It's darn near impossible to swim in them, and they fill the water so they get heavy (don't worry they float so you can retrieve them later).
5- Don't overload a boat
6- Instead of heading out across a large body of water, consider taking the longer route of hugging the bank to the spot (a lot of times this isn't possible). It sure would be easier to swim to a bank from 50 yards rather than a few hundred.
If someone takes a spill (no matter how funny it is) make sure they are ok, and comfortable before giving them a hard time. They might be soaked to the bone and turn into an ice cube before they admit to their buddies they're in trouble.
6- MOST importantly, NEVER hunt alone.

Unfortunately the danger of duck hunting is all to real and unavoidable, but having some common sense goes a long way. If you do happen to take a spill, just remember to get out and get dry as fast as possible. Work quickly, but don't work panicky. CALM DOWN, catch your breath from the cold shock, and problem solve your way to the next day.
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Fisheries Biologist
Pond King Inc.

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