THE COLD FACTS
Stages of Immersion
Stage 1: Cold Shock — The sudden lowering of skin temperature on immersion in cold water is one of the biggest jolts the body can experience. The instant that cold water makes contact with a person’s skin, they will experience a number of potentially lethal shock responses including loss of breathing control or hyperventilation, massive increase in heart rate and blood pressure and disorientation, lethargy and panic.
Stage 2: Physical Incapacitation — Another way of saying you become physically helpless in the water because you can no longer control your arms, legs, hands and feet. When your muscles and nerves get cold enough, they simply stop working. At this stage a person becomes progressively weaker and more rapidly exhausted. In very cold water, it’s possible to lose the use of your hands in under a minute.
Stage 3: Hypothermia — Means low body temperature, clinically defined as a core temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes about 30 minutes for an adult of average size to develop hypothermia - even in freezing water. Both mental ability and consciousness suffer at this stage. The primary danger is drowning.
Stage 4: Circumrescue Collapse — This final stage is related to an abrupt drop in blood pressure and can involve anything from a loss of consciousness to heart failure. Its name refers to the fact that the collapse can occur immediately before, during or after rescue.
Source: National Center for Cold Water Safety
At least three times in the past week, firefighters in Butler and Warren counties have been called to rescue people and their pets who accidentally fell into icy waters.
In all instances, everyone survived, but that doesn’t reduce the risks associated with entering the water, especially in the winter, said Lt. Rick Bucheit from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office and a member of the Marine Patrol Division.
“You say, ‘I can do this,’” he said of rescue attempts. “Then things take a drastic turn pretty quickly.”
He said cold water temperatures — those lower than the body temperature — lose body heat 25 times faster than air, and if the water current is 5 mph, that percentage jumps to 250 times faster than air.
He said even accomplished swimmers can become exhausted after being in cold water for 12 minutes.
Also, he said, people who try to rescue anyone in the water, are hampered by their clothing. If they’re dressed for the elements, those layers of clothing make it “too cumbersome” to get out of the water.
His advice: Never get in the water. Instead, immediately call 911, and see if you can find an object that you can reach into the water to save the person or animal.
When walking a pet near water, they should always be on a leash, Bucheit said.
There were two people and dog rescues in West Chester and one in Clearcreek Twp. in Warren County in the last week.
On Friday, neighbors living near a retention pond in West Chester saved two boys after they fell through the ice trying to get their dog. The boys fell through the iced-over retention pond in the 6100 block of Holly Hill Lane while trying to save their dog.
One neighbor, Susmita Mishra reached the 12-year-old boy who was closer to the shore, and another neighbor, Scott Glenn, used a garden hose to reach the 10-year-old boy. While the boys were taken to Glenn’s home to get warm, West Chester Twp. firefighters used a pole to reach the dog’s collar.
The boys eventually were taken to Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus and were treated for hypothermia.
Then on Monday, West Chester firefighters were faced with a similar rescue after two golden retrievers jumped into a frozen pond on Sea Pines Place and their owner tried to save them.
The woman was treated at West Chester Hospital and her dogs were treated at the West Chester Veterinary Center.
West Chester Twp. Fire Chief Rick Prinz warned anyone about entering a pond trying to rescue a pet.
“Don’t go out on the ice,” he said. “You don’t want to be a victim yourself. Never assume that any body of water is safe.”
Had the woman been unable to yell for assistance, or no one was around to hear her pleas, Prinz said the situation could have been “disastrous.”
A similar incident happened Saturday afternoon in Clearcreek Twp. when firefighters saved a dog that had fallen into an icy pond in the 1300 block of East Lytle-Five Points Road, according to the Warren County Sheriff’s Office. Capt Jeff Prass from the Clearcreek Twp. Fire Department said the dog was 50 feet into the water and his owners were unable to reach him with rope.
They called firefighters and one of them, wearing a cold wet suit and tethered, entered the water and rescued the dog.