How to translate text using browser tools
1 December 2008 Survey of Public Knowledge and Responses to Educational Slogans Regarding Cold-Water Immersion
Gordon G. Giesbrecht, Thea Pretorius
Author Affiliations +

Objectives.—Cold water temperature is a significant factor in North American drownings. These deaths are usually attributed to hypothermia. Survey questions were administered to 661 attendees of cold-stress seminars—including medical, rescue, law enforcement and lay attendees—to determine general knowledge of the effects of ice water immersion and responses to 2 public service educational slogans.

Methods.—Five questions were posed at the beginning of seminars to 8 groups (ranging in size from 46 to 195) during a 2-year period. Π2 analyses were used to determine if responses within any occupational category differed from the group responses.

Results.—A high portion of respondents greatly underestimated the time to become hypothermic in ice water (correct answer >30 minutes; 84% stated 15 minutes or less) and the time until cooling was life threatening (correct answer >60 minutes; 85% stated 30 minutes or less). There were no occupational differences in these responses. Most of the respondents identified a correct cause of death during cold stress (81% stated cardiac arrest, hypothermia, or drowning). Although both educational slogans had some advantages, between 40% (Slogan #1) to 50% (Slogan #2) of respondents did not respond correctly.

Conclusions.—The majority of respondents underestimated the time available for survival during ice water immersion. It is important to educate the public accurately to decrease the probability of panic under these circumstances. More work is required to develop effective educational slogans that provide proper information and actions for victims of cold-water immersion.

Gordon G. Giesbrecht and Thea Pretorius "Survey of Public Knowledge and Responses to Educational Slogans Regarding Cold-Water Immersion," Wilderness & Environmental Medicine 19(4), 261-266, (1 December 2008).
Published: 1 December 2008

This article is only available to subscribers.
It is not available for individual sale.

cold incapacitation
cold shock response
cold-water immersion
swim failure
Get copyright permission
Back to Top