Consequences of an Accidental Dip in Cold Water

    In water, the human body cools 32 times faster than in air.   In fact, water cooler than 70 degrees Fahrenheit seems cold to the touch.   When you are immersed in cold water for even a surprisingly short time, it can hurt or worse, kill you.

    If you like to fish during the fall, winter and spring months, there is always the risk of an accidental dip in cold water.   The only sure way to beat the odds is to wear a survival suit.   For more information on survival suits, personal flotation devices (PFDs) and other emergency equipment, see the Safety & Survival section on the Marine Gear page.


Expected Survival Time in Cold Water

Water Temperature

Exhaustion or Unconsciousness

Expected Survival Time

70 to 80 Fahrenheit

3 to 12 hours

3 hours to indefinitely

60 to 70 Fahrenheit

2 to 7 hours

2 to 40 hours

50 to 60 Fahrenheit

1 to 2 hours

1 to 6 hours

40 to 50 Fahrenheit

30 to 60 minutes

1 to 3 hours

32 to 40 Fahrenheit

15 to 30 minutes

30 to 90 minutes

Less than 32 Fahrenheit

Under 15 minutes

Under 15 to 45 minutes

Source: US Search and Rescue Task Force