Beyond Cold Water Bootcamp

1 Hour Lesson Plan

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The following is a sample lesson plan that you, as an Educator, can use in a one-hour class on the Dangers of Cold Water Immersion. It covers cold water risks, physiology, and survival practices, along with some important principles for rescue and treatment.

Note: To give a more extensive training, or if you have professional First Responders as your students, you can use the Lesson Plan for a Half-Day Training Session instead.

Regardless of whether you use this as a stand-alone class, or you insert it into a boating safety course you’re already teaching, this training could have a dramatic impact on your students one day--so the more visual aids you can add to the material, the more memorable it will be. To help you do this, choose pictures, graphs, videos, or a pamphlet from the Downloads section of this website. The DVD is also available to order.

A. INTRODUCTION (10 Minutes)

  • Explanation of Circum-rescue Collapse and fatality statistics suggesting that more instruction is needed for First Responders.

  • Give the broad contextual definition of the term “First Responder” as anyone who comes upon a victim in the water and decides to undertake a rescue.

  • Explain how understanding the truth about hypothermia, the dangers of Cold Water Immersion, and special techniques of handling a cold water victim can spell the difference between life or death.

  • Time for Questions

[To get an overview of the lesson material, or to use a presentation during your class, simply download the PowerPoint entitled “The Facts about Cold Water Immersion” (with Speaker’s notes) and modify it to include only the following topic areas shown below.]

  • Four Phases of Cold Water Immersion

  • The 1-10-1 Principle

  • Cold Water Survival

  • Stay or Swim?

  • Rescue & Treatment

  • Thermal Protective Clothing
    [Teaching Tool: If at all possible, have a variety of different levels of thermal protective clothing for people to see and feel.]

  • Time for Questions

C.  EXTRACTION (10 Minutes)

  • General Principles for Safe Extraction, Patient Packaging, and Treatment
    [For boat-specific Extraction methods and Equipment examples, please refer to those sections of our website.]


  • Assessment

  • Treatment – Mild and Moderate-to-Severe Hypothermia

  • Rewarming—Insulating Material and External Heat Sources

  • Time for Questions