Skip to main content

Course Outline

If you cannot get out of the water quickly, act to protect against rapid heat loss. In as few as 10 minutes, you may be unable to self-rescue.

  • Stay as motionless as possible, protecting the high heat loss areas of your body, and keep your head and neck out of the water.
  • Safety typically looks closer than it actually is, so staying with the boat is usually a better choice than swimming.
  • Adopt a position to reduce heat loss. If alone, use the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP) position; if there are others in the water with you, huddle together.
  • Be prepared at all times to signal rescuers.

Advanced Stages of Hypothermia

When a victim has these symptoms, dry clothing, heat, and medical attention are required immediately:

  • Bluish-white appearance
  • Weak heartbeat
  • Shallow breathing
  • Rigid body muscles
  • May be unconscious

The HELP and Huddle Positions

Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP): When you are alone, this position protects the body’s three major areas of heat loss (groin, head/neck, and rib cage/armpits). Wearing a PFD allows you to draw your knees to your chest and your arms to your sides.

HELP Position

Huddling With Others: Huddling with other people in the water lessens the loss of body heat and is good for morale. Also, rescuers can spot a group more easily than individuals.

Huddle Position
  • Unit 8 of 10
  • Topic 2 of 5
  • Page 7 of 7