A 74-year-old German died this lunchtime in the sea at Playa San Juan. Emergency services say that they were called out at shortly before 1pm with reports that a local lifeguard had pulled the man from the water and was trying to resuscitate him. Medics from the local health centre and SUC paramedics who took over the resuscitation attempts were sadly unable to help him, and he was declared dead at the scene.

An autopsy will now be carried out but he is presumed to have drowned after suffering a cardiac arrest, classic symptoms of cold water shock. Even at the height of summer between July and September, it’s not always obvious quite how cold the waters can be here. Cold water shock 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 24°C (75°F) even in August. Technically, therefore, it’s always “cold”, and bathers, especially the elderly and unfit, can get into difficulties within five minutes.

Just to be specific about symptoms, normal body temperature is 98.6º; 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 read my page HERE for information on all this and for recommendations on how to stay safe in waters around Tenerife.

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