Last summer The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) produced a video designed to cut risks from drowning. It introduced the key survival skill of floating.
They explained that on falling into cold water our instinct is to swim hard to fight the cold water. However the average temperature of British and Irish waters is 12-15°C – cold enough to cause cold water shock. Cold water shock makes you gasp uncontrollably and breathe in water, which quickly leads to drowning. It is really important to fight this instinct to swim and instead pause, float on our back until you are able to catch your breath. If you just float until the cold water shock has passed and control your breathing you have a far better chance of staying alive.
What can we learn from this in our personal and professional lives?
How many of us, when confronted with a crisis situation have panic as an immediate response and immediately go into a flurry of activity.
How much more effective to do the equivalent of floating in water . Sit down, get your breath and think through what to do first. This will enable you to think clearly and encourages those around you to stay calm as well. Your calmness, followed by thought-through action will show others that you will find a way to get the situation under control.
This year at least seven people were sure that remembering to float first when falling into water saved their life. They had a plan of action ahead of time for dealing with such an emergency . Similarly in the work environment it is useful to have a plan of action for dealing with emergencies and criteria in place for distinguishing between a real emergency and an unwanted event. The former is best tackled by having a clear list of actions, people to contact etc that is decided before the emergency takes place. The latter may prove quite manageable once you have thought it through.
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