View Full Version : How to maximize survival chances if falling into lake?

February 13th, 2008, 05:02 PM
Sorry if the subject is out of topic. Just out of curiosity what would you advise in the following scenarios. These are imaginary just for educational purposes on the survival capacities.

Question 1: I fall in the lake. I am still wearing my winter clothes and shoes. Let assume that I am not wearing a personal flotation device (PFD). Shoreline is 5 km away. What should I do to maximize my chances of survival?

Question 2: Same as Q1 but this time I wear a PFD.

My fitness level is enough to allow me to swim 5km in a swimming pool. I swim 3 times / week with an average distance of 1.5 km. Although I had never tried to swim 5K non stop. But if my life is threaten, I hope I will be able to make it.

Thanks in advance for any help.

February 13th, 2008, 05:19 PM
Don't go near the cold water unless you are preparred.

The Canadian Red Cross report http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=017352&tid=024

Kurt Dickson
February 13th, 2008, 05:36 PM
If you are 5K from shore with winter clothes on I would assume it is winter. Since it takes an hour for a decent swimmer to swim 5K with near freezing water temperature, I'd say you are dead. Just curious, how do you fall in water 5K from the shore in the middle of winter...skydiving?

February 13th, 2008, 09:32 PM
By chance I just saw on another bb this description of a fall through brook ice (the typical brook in the area is not more than 20 yards across, and probably closer to 10), with companions immediately at hand:

"[X] went through the ice. . . . Being forced chest first into the water and soaked through. Others had crossed the same spot but had no problems. If its never happened to you, the cold water cleans the wind out of you and cramps your long muscles. Within five minutes the clothes were freezing solid." [Presumably froze solid after she was hauled out.]

It had a happy resolution: "We got her in a winter tent, in second set of clothes, in two sleeping bags with a torso warmer against her chest in half an hour."

Note that the inadvertent swimmer was incapacitated basically immediately.


February 13th, 2008, 09:59 PM
Don't go near the cold water unless you are preparred.

The Canadian Red Cross report http://www.redcross.ca/article.asp?id=017352&tid=024

Thanks very much for the links. The information provided by this report is even better than what I was hoping for.

Kurt: the risky situation I described was just a bogus example to illustrate the question about safety in cold water. The link above points to the report: The Canadian Red Cross released the first module of a 10-year study on drowning in Canada. The Ice & Cold Water Module: http://www.redcross.ca/cmslib/general/ws_final_m2_english2006_04_19.pdf

The chapter "Cold Water Survival" answers to all my questions with very detailed facts and information. This except confirm what you said

A fit person could swim for about 45 minutes in 10C water before incapacitation. The expert swimmers could swim faster and were able to swim an average 1.4 km, compared with 820 m for the novices.

Allen Stark
February 13th, 2008, 10:40 PM
I think if you are 5 K away from shore it probably doesn't matter,you won't make it without help.One thing,if you are on the water,WEAR A PFD.It is the one thing you can do to improve your survival chances.It will keep you higher and warmer and more likely to be seen.

February 13th, 2008, 11:20 PM
50f is 10celcius it is cold but not unbearable. I have swum 10 mile races in that temperature but there are not many people who could do it.

February 13th, 2008, 11:33 PM
Isn't the English Channel sometimes colder than 50 deg. F?

February 13th, 2008, 11:49 PM
It looks to me the average temperature for English Channel crossings is 16 degrees Celsius = 60.8 degrees Fahrenheit.