Can You Still Drown With a Life Jacket On?

May 19, 2022 3 min read

While you can't drown with a life jacket on, there are still certain situations that make you unable to swim. Hypothermia, lack of consciousness, and foot entrapment are all possible scenarios. Fortunately, the westpac surf life saving helicopter was able to save the man, who was drifting out to sea wearing a life jacket. After 15 minutes of searching, the fisherman was rescued.


Keeping your head above water is an important step in preventing hypothermia. Whether you're swimming in the summer or winter, hypothermia can strike without warning. A sudden, unexpected fall into cold water can result in severe hypothermia within 30 minutes, or even less. The use of a life jacket will keep your head above water, reduce the chance of inhaling water, and keep your body's heat in.

If you're not wearing a life jacket, your first reaction upon falling into the water will be a gasp reflex, an involuntary response to the cold. This shock may cause you to hyperventilate and have rapid heart rate, leading to the possibility of fainting. Your first few minutes in the water should focus on staying afloat and avoiding panic. If you do begin to feel dizzy or cold, keep calm. You'll likely begin to feel your body temperature drop slowly, but you'll still have a chance to survive.

If the hypothermic person has no pulse, you should provide them with warm liquids to maintain body temperature. Alcohol is not a good option, as it dilates veins and increases body temperature. Alcohol can also cause the body to lose heat more quickly than sugars. If you're unconscious, however, you should avoid giving the victim food or liquids. Alcohol will dilate your veins, allowing more heat to escape.

Foot Entrapment

If you are wearing a life jacket and you get stuck in water, the danger is still there. You will maintain to stay away from going under the water surface though which prevents sinking. While wearing a life jacket, you are not protected from drowning, but if you become entangled in a strainer, your feet are trapped. This can cause your arms to give out and you can drown. Fortunately, foot entrapment can be prevented by following a few simple steps.

The first step in rescuing someone is to paddle upstream. Getting closer to the victim can help save their life. Make physical contact with them to free their foot. If you can do this, you have the best chance of rescuing the person. If you have to swim downstream, you have to decide whether it is safer to rescue the victim upstream or downstream. Being upstream may create a small eddy where you can help extricate the victim's foot. However, the upstream position will put you at risk of the same dangers as your victim.

Ideally, you should swim the entire distance to shore. Never stand up while swimming against the current. In the same way, most guides would never walk over their shins. This is to avoid Foot Entrapment. If a size nine foot gets caught in an eight-inch hole, it is likely that you will become entangled. Foot entrapment is one of the most common causes of drowning, so it is very important to wear a life jacket.

Lack of Consciousness

Though wearing a life jacket may increase a swimmer's chances of survival, it is by no means a guarantee. If the swimmer is not able to act within four to six minutes of falling into the water, irreversible damage to their brains can result. This is why a life jacket is not enough to save a drowning victim. Hypothermia is a condition where the body fails to produce enough heat to prevent death. In order to die from hypothermia, the body's core body temperature must drop to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

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