Whether you are attempting to cross a frozen lake for expediency in a wilderness survival scenario, or are just having fun on the ice, if that ice cracks your odds of survival have just dropped to near zero. The intense cold can trigger a gasp response, which could mean that you just inhaled freezing water into your lungs. Your heart will be pounding and losing temperature fast. If you don’t get out of the water soon, your limbs will start to lose mobility and strength, making it impossible to get out and to keep your head above water. If you don’t respond quickly and correctly, you will die. To stay in the fight, here’s what to do.
- When you start to feel yourself drop, take a deep breath and try your hardest not to gasp as you enter the water.
- Stretch your arms out parallel with the ground as quickly as you can. This will increase the surface area your weight is being distributed on. If you fell through a small hole, this may be enough to keep you from going all the way under the water, which will prevent you from inhaling water and keep your head dry and warm.
- Don’t panic. Your body will experience cold shock when you enter the water. Concentrate on reassuring yourself that this will pass. Control your breathing and try to calm yourself so that you can respond properly.
- Don’t try to crawl, or claw your way out with your hands. Lean forward in the direction of the last known safe ice or nearest shore. Bring your legs up behind you until you are parallel with the ice, then kick as hard and fast as you can to propel your body onto the ice.
- The ice will be slippery, using your hands won’t help much unless you have a tool to help grip the ice. Wiggle with your upper body while you kick until you are on the ice. Then roll to safe footing before trying stand. Standing too early will decrease your surface area to weight ratio and could mean that you fall back through the ice.
- Remove wet clothing and get to warmth as soon as possible.
Just getting out of the water doesn’t mean that your fight is over. You will need to keep your fingers as warm as possible so that you can continue to function to start a fire and remove your wet clothing. But stay calm, people have survived this before, and you can too.
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