If you fall into icy water or through the ice on a winter ski or snowshoe trip, you are immediately in serious trouble. How do you get out after you’ve fallen in? Here’s some advice and information from an expert.
by Leon Pantenburg
The Sunflower Recreation Area Greentree Reservoir edge was rimmed with ice, and I was waist deep in it, wader hunting for ducks about 40 miles north of Vicksburg, MS. I set up a couple decoys in a little clearing, leaned against a cypress tree, and was sounding a feeding call. A flight of ducks came whistling through the trees, so I moved forward…and tripped over a log.
My faceplant was inelegant, a complete surprise and the shock of going into the water caused an involuntary gasp. When I emerged, sputtering, my hunting buddies all cheered.
I slogged back to shore, jogged back to the car, stripped off my wet clothes, changed into my extra set, and sat in the car drinking hot coffee with the heater running. When I was thoroughly warmed, I got back into my waders and headed back into the swamp. The ducks were flying, and all waterfowl hunters are crazy, anyway.
That’s my only personal experience with falling into icy water, but it’s no startling revelation that ice water is REALLY COLD. In restaurants, thermometers are typically calibrated in ice water, because it is a constant 33 degrees. If you fall into icy water or through the ice on a winter ski or snowshoe trip, you are immediately in serious trouble.
Your first concern is to get out of the water, and warmed as quickly as possible.
But first things first: How exactly do you get out of a hole in the ice? Is there a best technique for getting back onto solid ice? And how long can you last immersed in ice water?
These are just a few things that Dr. Gordon Giesbrecht University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada studies. He operates the Laboratory for Exercise and Environmental Medicine where he studies human responses to exercise/work in extreme environments.
Giesbrech has conducted hundreds of cold water immersion studies that have provided valuable information about cold stress physiology and pre-hospital care for human hypothermia.
Dr. Giesbrecht demonstrates how to get out after falling into a hole in the ice, but he also goes back in to demonstrate another point!
The link was forwarded to me from one of the SurvivalCommonSense.com readers. I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of the video series.