For various reasons you might end up in the middle of the river or sea and you have to do all you can to protect yourself. It could be that you had an accident, your vessel or boat engine fails, or you ran out of fuel and you ended up floating in the water.
It could also be possible that your boat is capsized or swamped, you might have already put your life jacket on but find yourself struggling in the water.
Some will keep floating to end up exhausting all their energy, not knowing that there are various help positions that will help them maintain while still in the water. When you find yourself floating in the water, there are certain positions you have to maintain before the rescue team arrives.
We shall discuss the benefits of assuming a help position when you’re stranded in the water and also the type of positions you have to assume before you get out of the water. Plus, we’ll also share some survival tips that will help you while you’re stranded in the water.
The Main Reason For Assuming Help Position While You’re Stranded In Water
1. Conserve Energy And Body Heat
The main reason for assuming the help position when stranded in water is to conserve energy and body heat. If you keep on swimming in the water, your body will keep on producing heat which will lead to the loss of energy. If you’re stranded in cold water, your body temperature will fall and will affect your health negatively.
There are a lot of health risks associated with staying in cold water for a long time especially when you’re active inside the water. Immersion hypothermia is the biggest health risk associated with staying in cold water for a long time, it can lead to unconsciousness or even death if one isn’t rescued fast.
Assuming the help position requires that you stay still to conserve your body heat and energy for some time before you’re able to get out of the water.
Some make the mistake of swimming in order to stay warm, this is not recommended except when you’re able to swim to an area that is safer or you want to join others nearby so that you can team up in one location.
If you’re in the middle of nowhere and you can’t identify a safe spot, you should rather assume the help position to wait for the rescue team.
2. To Attract Attention
Most boaters are aware of the help position and the moment they notice someone in that position, they know they’re in danger and in most cases, will offer help even if they’re not the rescue team.
If you continue to swim, they might ignore you assuming you’re just enjoying your hobby. When the rescue team is also searching, it’s easier to identify you especially if you have your signal devices such as a horn and a torchlight.
3. Get More Time
If there is no ship coming and the rescue ship hasn’t arrived on time, assuming the help position will help you survive than when you’re swimming.
If you’re swimming in cold water, the more you preserve your energy the more chance you have for survival.
Swimming will make your body produce more heat as mentioned previously, but assuming the help position will help preserve it on the other hand.
These are the three main reasons why you need to assume the help position while you’re stranded in the water. Generally, we can say that your chance of survival is greater than when you keep swimming in the river or ocean, especially when you’re in cold water or worse in ice water.
Assuming the help position is a must when you’re in such a situation, learn how to maintain the help positions and you could increase your chance of survival.
How To Assume Help Position When You’re Stranded In Water
There are two effective ways to position yourself when stranded in water, it depends on whether you’re alone or if you’re a group of individuals.
1. The Individual Technique
This method is called the Heat Escape Lessening Posture, also referred to as “HELP”, and it’s done when you’re alone without anyone by your side that you can huddle.
The HELP position minimizes heat loss from the major areas of heat loss, they’re three; Rib cage and Armpits, Head and Neck, and Groin.
Before assuming the HELP position you have to ensure your Life Jacket or PFD is on because they ensure that your knee is drawn to the chest, and your arms should hold tightly to your body to prevent heat loss.
In order to assume this position, you should button up your shirt or whatever clothing you’re currently wearing, then you clinch the Life Jacket.
Make sure your head and neck are out of water as much as you can, if there is a cap on your head, you can pull it down tight.
Remove your boots or any heavy shoes you’re wearing, you then cross your two hands against your chest, hold tight while drawing your knees closer to your chest as well. Maintain this position for as long as you can until you’re rescued.
2. Group Technique
If it happens that you’re not alone, there is another technique much better than when you’re alone. It’s called the “Huddling” technique, and this method is easier than when you’re maintaining the HELP position alone.
Ships or rescue teams can more easily spot a group of individuals than when they’re all separated and it’s one of the best signals notifying others that you need help.
Assuming this huddle position is simple, you need to form a circle facing inward position, all arms should be linked together holding each other tight, get very close to each other tight.
This position will help the group to preserve as much heat as possible. If it happens that there are children or aged people within the group, they should be placed in the center while they’re maintaining the huddle position as well.
These are the two positions one should maintain while they’re stranded in water, the purpose of each technique as you can see is to help preserve heat and energy.
Survival Tips When You Can’t Get Out Of Water
It’s important to note that the moment you’re stranded in water, you’ll start losing heat immediately and if heat isn’t preserved, you’ll be exhausted within 10-15 minutes, that’s why it’s important to assume the position we previously talked about. Here are more tips that will help when stranded in water;
1. Stay motionless; It’s important to stay motionless as much as you can. The HELP position as discussed requires you to stay motionless as well. Even if you can’t maintain such a position, you should stay motionless.
Whether it’s holding your boat or any solid object that will make you stay motionless, you should do that. While you’re motionless in the water, you should make sure your head and neck are out of the water.
2. If you’re stranded in very cold water or even ice water, do as much as you can get out of the water or move to an area that’s not harmful.
Take ice water as an example, you should move to an area that is less icy, this will help minimize the health risks. In that case, you should use any floating device or PFD you might have, if you’re near your boat, you should do as much as you can in order to grab it.
You have to do anything that will get you off the water because no matter which position you assume in the water, staying for a longer time is harmful.
It’s better to have a PFD with thermal protection before going out boating because they help a lot than your typical PFD suit. In extreme conditions, immersion suits should be used, especially when you’re abandoning your boat.
3. Stay with your boat if you can; If it happens that your boat is capsized, stay closer to it while maintaining the HELP position. It’s better to keep hold of the boat than keep swimming and the boat will help you attract more attention than when you’re floating alone.
Make sure to grab signal devices so that you can alert ships and rescuers, you should grab your horn or torchlight if possible. The moment you notice a ship or the rescue team, then start sending signals.
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