psa polar bear swim safety tips 30dec2008

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December 30, 2008

                        Tips for a Safe Polar Bear Swim
VICTORIA – Below average temperatures across Vancouver Island will make Polar
Bear Swims particularly frigid this New Year’s Day, and participants in the annual ritual
should take extra care to guard against hypothermia.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority offers the following tips to ensure a safe swim:
   If you have known heart disease or any other serious medical condition you should
   consult with your family physician before taking the swim.
   Don’t drink alcohol prior to the swim as alcohol accelerates hypothermia.
   It is recommended you not stay in the water for longer then 15 minutes. Body heat
   is lost 30 times faster in water than in air.
   Keep your outer clothing on until you are ready to get in the water.
   Remember that children are more susceptible to hypothermia than adults.
   Signs of hypothermia include shivering, confusion and loss of muscular control.
   If symptoms occur, get medical assistance immediately. Hypothermia is
   particularly threatening to the very young and the elderly. Hypothermia can
   progress to a life threatening condition where shivering stops, the person loses
   consciousness and cardiac arrest can occur.

                                         – 30 –
Moira McLean
VIHA Communications