Lessons Learnt: Clinging to life in frigid river
10 December 2020
During an early evening in August, a man in his seventies was ejected from his powerboat after hitting a submerged object in Glenelg River.
He wrote to us about his experience, in order to raise awareness of the importance of correctly fitting your lifejacket.
He said he wore an inflatable lifejacket "which when activated went straight up over my head – the only way I could support myself was to hold on to the lifejacket with both hands".
"This meant I was not able to swim to safety as the current was too strong for me to use my legs to kick to the bank of the river.
"I was extremely lucky that a young man heard my cries for help as I floated past Simpsons Landing and he swam out 25m and got me back to the landing.
"At that stage I had been in 12-degree water for an hour and was suffering advanced hypothermia. Fortunately, the young man’s partner had called for an ambulance and a number of locals arrived and assisted me until the ambulance arrived."
The man spent several days in hospital and was lucky to survive.
We recommend you don't go boating alone – but if you do, think about how you'd get out of a sticky situation.
- Make sure your lifejacket is properly fitted – a crotch strap will help keep it in place
- Use a kill switch so your boat stops if you fall overboard
- Consider adding a ladder to your boat’s gear
- Practise getting back on the boat so you can when you need to
- Carry multiple ways to raise the alarm – you could add a personal locator beacon (PLB) to your lifejacket