Page Content

The best way to prevent hypothermia and hyperthermia is to avoid it. Know the signs and symptoms and take immediate action before it becomes a medical emergency.


Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. If the body’s core temperature drops too low, it will become a life threatening situation.

Hypothermia is easy to avoid: hydrate, keep dry, snack and avoid excessive heat loss.


Hyperthermia is the term we use for illnesses related to too much heat. Our body perspires to cool our rising core temperature as we paddle.

In the event of hyperthermia, take a break, find shade, hydrate or go for a swim.

1-10-1 Principle—Cold Water Immersion

1-10-1 relates to the three phases of cold water immersion and the approximate time each phase takes.

  • 1 minute—cold shock: An initial deep sudden gasp followed by hyperventilation that is 6 to 10 times more rapid than normal breathing. You have one minute to get your breathing under control.
  • 10 minutes—cold incapacitation: Gradual loss of effective use of your fingers, arms, and legs. If not wearing a lifejacket, drowning is likely because of swim failure.
  • 1 hour—hypothermia: Even in ice water it could take 1 hour before becoming unconscious due to hypothermia. In order to lose consciousness the body core temperature has to go below 30 degrees; this time can vary depending on the temperature of the water.

The longer one spends immersed in cold water, the less the chance of survival. Self-rescue skills and the ability to alert SAR usually dictates whether the outcome is a rescue or a recovery.

Practice self rescue methods to reduce the use of SAR and lower the risk of distress during water incidents.