Updated 16 January: An 86-year-old Belgian tourist has drowned while swimming at Playa del Camisón this evening. Emergency services say that he was rescued from the water by lifeguards but that neither they nor the paramedics could do anything to save his life. The cause of his death was drowning caused by cardiac arrest. As you will now expect me to say, cardiac arrest in the sea is a symptom of cold water shock, which can affect people even with water temperature of up to 25º, it’s not just freezing water that is dangerous, and the water around the Canaries’ doesn’t get above 75°F (24°C) even in August. And so, regardless of the time of year, even in high summer, Tenerife’s waters are technically cold. Bathers can get into difficulties within five minutes.

To be specific about symptoms, normal body temperature is 98.6ºF; shivering begins when the body temperature lowers to approximately 96.5º; amnesia and coordination problems begin to set in at approximately 94º, unconsciousness at 86º, and death, normally from cardiac arrest, at approximately 79º … and 79º is 4º above our normal high season water temperatures!

Please be aware of the dangers of the sea here, and not just the problems associated with “cold water”, but also the warning flags that fly on our beaches, rip tides and undertow, all issues that bathers need to know about. Please read THIS page on staying safe in Tenerife waters. Above all, however, please don’t interpret this information as a warning not to go in the water. What it is is advice to go in the water with care, forearmed because forewarned … and therefore able to enjoy the sea safely.

Updated 6 January: Another body was found this morning floating in the Dársena de Los Llanos, the harbour area of Santa Cruz opposite the Cabildo. This is the second such discovery in three days, and emergency services say that the body was recovered by Tenerife Bomberos and the Ports Authority, and has now been transferred to the judicial authorities for an autopsy to be carried out. Unconfirmed reports say that he was a Moroccan who was surprised on a yacht in the harbour by the return of the owners on New Year’s Day, and who disappeared after jumping in the water: the owners assumed that he had safely reached the dock and had run off.

Updated 4 January: The body of a man said to be around 50 and thought to be from Galicia was found this morning in the harbour opposite the Cabildo in Santa Cruz. The Ports Authority say that the discovery was made around 9am in the Dársena de Los Llanos by a submarine services company. The body is said to have been dressed, and not to show any signs of violence, so it appears at this stage to have been a tragic accident, but an autopsy will be carried out to establish the specific cause of death.

Original post 3 January: Sadly much sooner than I had hoped, I have to start a post on drownings in Tenerife in 2017 with the news that a 74-year-old German holidaymaker has died while swimming in the fishing harbour in Puerto de la Cruz. Emergency services say that he was pulled from the water after suffering a cardiac arrest but paramedics were unfortunately unable to resuscitate him.

This is the second drowning this year so far in the waters around the Canaries. A 65-year-old Finnish man drowned on New Year’s Day at Playa del Inglés, Gran Canaria, when he went into the water to try to save a woman who was herself in difficulties. This was not any ordinary man either, but Reijo Kuivaniemi, twice Finnish biathlon champion, a top athlete in his time who remained in tremendous shape for his age. It is not just the elderly, weak or feeble who are at risk.

As I said HERE only yesterday, 21 people drowned in Tenerife’s waters in 2016, with the figures for the Canaries as a whole up 16% on 2015 at 72, almost double the 38 who died on Canarian roads last year. The Canary Islands have the very dubious honour of topping the leader board for deaths in Spanish autonomous regions, and Tenerife leads the figures among the islands in this archipelago.

Please take care in the water here. Cardiac arrest in the sea is a symptom of cold water shock, which can affect people even with water temperature of up to 25º, it’s not just freezing water that is dangerous, and the water around the Canaries’ doesn’t get above 75°F (24°C) even in August. And so, regardless of the time of year, even in high summer, Tenerife’s waters are technically cold. Bathers can get into difficulties within five minutes.

To be specific about symptoms, normal body temperature is 98.6ºF; shivering begins when the body temperature lowers to approximately 96.5º; amnesia and coordination problems begin to set in at approximately 94º, unconsciousness at 86º, and death, normally from cardiac arrest, at approximately 79º … and 79º is 4º above our normal high season water temperatures!

Please be aware of the dangers of the sea here, and not just the problems associated with “cold water”, but also the warning flags that fly on our beaches, rip tides and undertow, all issues that bathers need to know about. Please read THIS page on staying safe in Tenerife waters. Above all, however, please don’t interpret this information as a warning not to go in the water. What it is is advice to go in the water with care, forearmed because forewarned … and therefore able to enjoy the sea safely.

 

This article has 2 Comments

  1. I would like to make it clear that just because someone dies in the water, that does not make it a ‘drowning’. You have stated the German gentleman died of a cardiac arrest therefore it should not count in your statistics of drownings. He still had the snorkel in place so his respiration is unlikely to have been compromised by anything other than the cardiac arrest. It was certainly a tragedy but unless a post mortem states he did in fact drown, please don’t make that assumption.
    Also, sure the paramedics did a grand attempt- but so did all the passers by before the professionals arrived.

  2. I’m afraid that the official emergency services forensic report is calling it a drowning caused by cardiac arrest. While it’s possible to have a cardiac arrest in cold water without it being caused by the cold water, the causation is overwhelmingly likely. This doesn’t detract from the fact that it was a drowning, however, according to official sources.

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