North East business warns of the risks of cold water shock

A North East business is focusing its efforts this summer on educating the public about the risks of cold water shock.

Wednesday, 11th August 2021, 8:00 am
Simon Laing (Left) and Dave Calvert (Right), Co-Owners of CBK Adventures.

With more people heading to open water this summer, Simon Laing and Dave Calvert, co-owners of CBK Adventures – Kayak and SUP School, say that wearing a wetsuit can be a life saver.

Dave said: “When unexpectedly entering water that has a temperature of 15°C or less, the body can go into immediate shock.

“This can be the precursor to drowning. Wearing an appropriate wetsuit drastically reduces the chances of this happening and can save your life.

"All of our customers have to wear wetsuits when they are out on the water, and we’d strongly advise every recreational paddler to do the same.”

Cold water shock forces the blood vessels in the skin to close and raises a person’s heart rate, potentially resulting in a heart attack.

The sudden cooling of the skin also causes an involuntary gasp for breath. This increases the probability of water entering the lungs. It only takes half a pint of sea water to enter the lungs for a fully grown man to start drowning.

CBK Adventures, based in Cullercoats Bay, has first-hand experience of coming to people’s aid.

Members of the team recently had to rescue someone who suffered cold water shock after jumping into the sea from the pier wearing a bikini.

They also regularly encounter paddleboarders dressed in only shorts and a t-shirt, which increases the risk if they fall in.

Simon added: “Water-based activities have boomed over the past 18 months, with more people than ever experiencing the benefits of enjoying our region’s blue spaces.

"However, we want to ensure that people stay safe and are educated concerning the potential risks.”

To minimise the risk of cold-water shock, the advice is to wear an appropriate wetsuit based on the water activity and wear a flotation device.

Those who unexpectedly enter the water unexpectedly are advised not to try and swim straight away, let the initial effects of cold water pass; float on your back as you catch your breath; and stay calm and call for help or swim to safety.

More information relating to cold water shock can be found on the RNLI’s website –