How Long Does It Take to Get Hypothermia in Cold Water?

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.

What Is The Typical Medical Treatment For Hypothermia After A Fall Into Cold Water

Maritime workers are at risk for hypothermia when they fall into cold water. Hypothermia is a potentially fatal condition that must be treated quickly. If you, or a loved one, have suffered the consequences of hypothermia, then it is important to contact a New York maritime lawyer for more information about your rights.

It is also important to know what to do as soon as hypothermia is suspected. If a maritime worker has fallen overboard into cold water, then it is important to immediately call for emergency help. Treatment can, and often should, begin prior to help arriving. For example, the person suffering from hypothermia should be moved to a warm, dry location, provided with warm blankets and a warm beverage, if possible.

Once the worker is in the care of trained medical professionals, blood re-warming, warm IV fluids, and other warming techniques may be used to treat the worker.

 

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