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Hofmann & Schweitzer
Call 212-465-8840
Toll Free 1-800-3-MAY-DAY (362-9329)

Q
How Long Does it Take to Get Hypothermia in Cold Water?

A

The amount of time that it takes to develop hypothermia depends on the temperature of the water and the type of protective gear that is worn while in the water. Hypothermia occurs when a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. 

The Timeline of Hypothermia

Image of ice cold water depicting hypothermia risks for maritime workers.Hypothermia can happen within minutes of falling into cold water, but the symptoms generally develop gradually. 

When the water temperature is 40 degrees or below, serious injury can result in as little as a few minutes. Even in water temperatures approaching 50 degrees, death can occur within the first hour of cold water immersion. Although your body fat, protective gear, and many other factors influence how long someone can survive in cold water, here are some general guidelines:

  • At a water temperature of 32.5 degrees, death may occur in under 15 - 45 minutes.
  • At a water temperature of 32.5 to 40 degrees, death may occur in 30 - 90 minutes. 
  • At a water temperature of 40 to 50 degrees, death may occur in 1 - 3 hours.
  • At a water temperature of 50 - 60 degrees, death may occur in 1 - 6 hours.
  • At a water temperature of 60 - 70 degrees, death may occur in 2 - 40 hours.

To learn about how hypothermia is treated, view our FAQ: What is the typical medical treatment for hypothermia after a fall into cold water?

If you have been injured or if you have lost a loved one due to hypothermia, then you may be entitled to damages.  Contact a New York maritime lawyer at 1-800-3-MAY-DAY today for more information.

Paul Hofmann
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Specializes in personal injury, with emphasis on maritime, railroad and construction worker tort claims

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