Water Safety Presentation

On Sunday 26th February James Blake, the Water Rescue Instructor for Berkshire gave a briefing on Water Safety to members of Henley Dragon Boat Club and Henley Canoe Club at the Eyot Centre.

James explained that nationally there are around 400 deaths per year through drowning, he showed images of some cases and showed us some of the kit worn by the professionals and the rescue techniques they use.

James showing a dry suit and how to care for it

James showing a dry suit and how to care for it

There was a quick run through suitable clothing for paddlesports and the need to care for them properly. We were shown a selection of buoyancy aids and their correct fitting.

How to fit a buoyancy aid

How to fit a buoyancy aid

The presentation moved on to waterborne diseases, how good practise can prevent them and how to recognize signs and symptoms when things go wrong.

Finally, there was a discussion about capsize procedures for Dragon Boat and O1 with reference to our own stretch of river and the need for everyone who paddles to practise capsize drills.

Cold Water Shock.

The group moved outside where the presentation included a briefing on what equipment should be available at the waterside i.e. life buoys and throw lines and the necessity for regular checks to ensure they are fit for purpose.

James then went on to explain the effects of cold water shock on the body;

  • Rapid shallow breathing with possible inhalation of water – as little as 150mls. Of water in the lungs can cause drowning.
  • Significant changes in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Muscle spasm
  • Within 3 to 30 minutes of immersion, the rapidly cooled body loses strength and dexterity meaning the person may lose the necessary strength to pull themselves out of the water.
  • Once rescued cold blood from the arms and legs return to the core of the body and there is still a risk of collapsing blood pressure causing cardiac arrest.

Following this James bravely jumped into the 10*C water to show how to survive the initial shock.

  • Don’t panic
  • Get control of your breathing
  • Stay as still as possible until your breathing settles down
  • Focus on floating with your head above water
  • When your breathing is under control, perform the most important functions before you lose dexterity i.e. locate everyone and get them out of the water.

Once James was back on dry land he explained how to take care of someone who is suffering from cold water immersion.

  • Lay them horizontally
  • Prevent further heat loss and treat for hypothermia if necessary
  • Seek medical help immediately if necessary

The whole group thanked James for a brilliant presentation which was full of really useful information.

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