Maintenance window scheduled to begin at February 14th 2200 est. until 0400 est. February 15th


Forgot Password?

    Or login with Facebook
    Defense Visual Information Distribution Service Logo

    Cold Water Survivors: How They Did It

    Cold Water Survivors: How They Did It

    Photo By Pamela Doty | Blog Header Picture read more read more



    Story by Pamela Doty 

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Water Safety

    When water temperatures are cold, wearing a life jacket whenever you’re on or near water is more critical than ever in order to survive a fall into cold water. Living through a potential drowning incident is something that people have done in cold water, thanks to the life jackets they were wearing. Here are stories about survivors, in three separate incidents, who are very thankful that they were wearing the right gear.

    A few years ago, Mr. Nedley Lundquist of Albuquerque, New Mexico went fishing at Cochiti Lake in his newly purchased kayak. Late in the afternoon he capsized. He was saved by his automatic, self-inflating life jacket, but lost some of his gear, including his keys and cell phone. He was not able to right his kayak so he swam for the shore. Mr. Lundquist stated that he believed at one point he would likely drown because the water was so cold. Then he quickly decided that "as a Marine I may die but not from giving up." With a lot of determination and his life jacket, Mr. Lundquist made it to shore, however it was after sundown. Mr. Lundquist took shelter in a small cleft in the rocky shore. He shivered all night and didn’t sleep. Fortunately, when the sun came up in the morning he was able to warm up enough to scramble up the hillside to get to a road where he was recused by a Good Samaritan driving by. This combination of novice skills and colder water temperatures could have been deadly if Mr. Lundquist had not been wearing a life jacket.

    Recently in Minnesota, two duck hunters, in separate incidents, survived because they were wearing their life jackets. One duck hunter, at Bowstring Lake, reported he was trying to retrieve a duck he had shot when waves overtook his small boat and caused it to capsize, sending him into 55-degree water. He was in the water for 15 to 20 minutes before members of his hunting party rescued him. This incident could have easily had more negative consequences if he wasn’t wearing a life jacket and help wasn’t nearby.

    The other duck hunting incident was on Rice Lake. This man survived because he was wearing a life jacket; plus he hung onto his boat after it capsized. He reportedly yelled for help for more than two hours. This man was saved thanks to a helpful and quick-thinking landowner; a county sheriff’s deputy with a drone; and two conservation officers who made their way through shallow, swampy water to where the man clung for life. Officer Pat McGowan said, “When we got to him, I couldn’t see him at all and thought he was underwater. The biggest thing is he had on that life jacket, which helped him keep a little heat in and made it easier for him to stay above the water and hang onto the boat.” It’s best to stay with a capsized boat because it helps people find you and getting as much of your body out of cold water as possible can slow down the hypothermia process.

    Something that helps keep the numbers of cold-water fatalities down is that some states have regulations that require those in unpowered vessels to wear life jackets during colder months. Also, some U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lakes have policies that require those in unpowered vessels and/or motorboats less than certain lengths (i.e. 16, 18, or 21 feet) to wear life jackets year round.

    Being out on our nation’s waterways when many larger vessels have been stored for the winter can be very enjoyable. However, cold water can lead to life-threatening conditions and small motorboats and paddle craft can easily capsize from being overloaded, unexpected weather (i.e. high winds), or wave action. That’s why it’s critical to wear a properly-fitted life jacket and non-inflatable styles tend to be more dependable in cold weather. Other safety necessities, even if you’re going out for just a short trip, include a sounding device (i.e. whistle attached to your life jacket) and a dry bag of essentials that will float (i.e. communication device capable of getting help and extra set of clothing).

    No matter how long of an outing, it’s never a good idea to go boating or paddling alone and you should always share your float or paddle plan with someone so they know where to find you and when you’re supposed to return. If you do capsize, it’s best to stay with the vessel because the shore is usually farther away than it looks. Wearing layers of clothes and a dry suit under your life jacket can help you survive longer in cold water so dress for the water temperature. Wet clothes and shoes do not weigh you down while you’re in the water; they only get heavier from the weight of water when you’re getting out of the water, so keep them on to stay warmer in the water. Then remove and replace them with dry clothing, as quickly as possible, after you get out of the water.

    Following these safety tips and lessons from survivors could save your life. Sharing this information with friends and family could save their lives. If you know any life jacket survivor stories, we would love to hear from you. Share your story and any pictures associated with your story with us at and use the subject “Life Jacket Survivor.”



    Date Taken: 01.22.2021
    Date Posted: 01.22.2021 17:06
    Story ID: 387430
    Location: US

    Web Views: 100
    Downloads: 0