SURVIVING COLD WATER
If rescue is not imminent, your number one priority is to get yourself out of the water as soon as possible. You can do this either by climbing onto your capsized boat or any other floating objects, or if it is within reach by swimming to shore. In cold water, a person may only retain the ability to swim for up to 30 minutes, but typically it is usually much less than that. The sooner you can get your body out of the water the greater your chances of survival will be.
If rescue is imminent - you should conserve energy and body heat. You may extend your survival time by adhering to the following tips:
Wear your PFD. You can expend valuable energy treading water without it.
H.E.L.P. "Heat Escape Lessening Posture". You want to keep as much body heat as possible from escaping. If you are alone, cross your arms tightly against the chest and bring your knees up close to the chest.
If other passengers are in the water as well, use the "Huddle" technique to maintain body heat. Get the sides of everyone's chests close together, with arms around the back and legs intertwined.
When re-warming following immersion in cold water, be sure to do so slowly; be sure not to rub your body vigorously; use your body heat, a portable heater (if available) or towels/blankets. Re-warming slowly and gradually will help to prevent shock.
As a boat owner, it is never a bad idea to learn CPR and other first aid techniques in order to be able to properly deal with emergencies.
LEARN A RECOVERY TECHNIQUE THAT WORKS AND PRACTICE IT.
ADDITIONAL COLD WATER PROTECTION
A full nose-to-toes PFD
AN ANTI-EXPOSURE WORKSUIT
A PFD with a thermal protection rating
To be used in conjunction with a flotation device and a thermal liner
Traps and heats water against your body
To be used in extreme conditions upon abandoning vessel (usually for off-shore use)