Prediction of Survival time at Sea Based on Observed Body Cooling Rates


  1. Tikuisis, P.
Corporate Authors
Defence and Civil Inst of Environmental Medicine, Downsview ONT (CAN)
The prediction of survival time (ST) of individuals stranded at sea is particularly difficult since reliable controlled data are unavailable. An individual's rate of body cooling is governed by the difference between heat loss and heat production. It has been suggested that the rate of deep body cooling can be extrapolated to estimate ST. The observed linearity of this cooling rate against water temperature is consistent with the predictions of an independently-developed mathematical model of ST. This model has been extended to simulate conditions of partial immersion and wet clothing, and subsequently calibrated against observed human cooling rates. The resultant modification allows a much broader range of ST predictions involving calm and rough seas, and non-immersion wet conditions. Predictions are presented for lean vs fat individuals, a "worst" case scenario where shivering is absent, and partial immersion. While these predictions must be considered speculative and subject to change as better information becomes available, the model can be useful as a decision aid. It would be prudent, however, to consider the predictions in a relative vs. absolute sense; i.e., for comparative purposes.
Cold water immersion;Survival time (ST);Cooling rates
Report Number
DCIEM-96-P-43 — Reprint
Date of publication
01 May 1997
Number of Pages
Reprinted from
Aviation, Space, and Enviornmental Medicine, vol 68, no 5, 1997, p 441-448
Hardcopy;Document Image stored on Optical Disk;Electronic Document(PDF)

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