The biggest risk to swimmers in SF Bay is Hypothermia.
Signs of hypothermia include:
- Deteriorating swim stroke
- Trouble speaking
- Confusion. Lack of Direction. Swimming in Circles
- Inability to answer questions
- Grey skin color.
If you suspect the swimmer is starting to suffer from hypothermia, look for difficulty in speech. Ask questions which require thought:
- What is your name.
- What are you sighting on?
- Simple arithmetic. What is 9+6
When swimmers get tired and cold, they can start feeling alone, scared, irrational or even combative.
But as swimmers progress into hypothermia, they may lose awareness of the severity of their condition. A confused swimmer is likely to be in worse condition than a frightened swimmer.
Management – In the Boat
Once in a boat, a swimmer will continue to cool down and this may be particularly acute if the air is cold and the wind is blowing. It’s important to get the swimmer dry and wrapped in blankets as soon as possible. Do this before racing back to the dock.
Management – At the Club
When a hypothermic swimmer is brought back to the club, always have someone accompany them to the sauna.
Rapid rewarming has its own risks. Swimmers that need assistance should be placed on the lower bench of the sauna to allow for a gradual rewarming. Someone must stay with them until they’re warmed.
When to Call 911
Most swimmers exiting the water after a long swim will be in some state of hypothermia. Most cases can be managed at the club, but there comes a time when paramedics may be needed.
- Shivering stops
- Greater lack of coordination
- Heavily slurred speech
- Progressive loss of consciousness
- Weak pulse; shallow breathing