Part of the premise of Shock Factor research was to identify if cold water on its own was the only factor causing an uncontrollable gasp. If it were true, ‘polar bear swims’ around the world could result in countless deaths… but they don’t. It was thought that a contributing factor may be the surprise of an accidental immersion or fall overboard regardless of the water temperature. Cold Water will exacerbate the situation and certainly cause more shock once in the water, but we wanted to see if the simple surprise of an unexpected fall overboard into any water temperature could result in the Shock Factor.

The Shock Factor experience has been created to demonstrate that no matter how experienced a boater you are, how well you can swim, how nice the weather, or how close your lifejacket might be … (other than having it on) … when you are boating, there is an ever-present risk that an accidental immersion can cause you to have your worst boating day ever.

The Shock Factor experience was a simple research exercise designed to identify the emotional and physical reaction a boater might experience to the surprise of an accidental fall and the shock of ending up in water. A series of ‘experiences’ were created to simulate surprise immersions and candidates were recruited and selected at random to participate. Each was put through a series of experiences and their responses recorded both by cameras and with specially designed shirts to measure their vital signs, like heartbeat, respiration, and volume of air intake.

The results were reviewed, tabulated and are being promoted (like on this web site) to help Canada’s boating public better understand the risk they face in the event of an accidental immersion every time that they boat. The notion that it can’t happen to me simply does not hold water. It can and does happen to hundreds who did not believe they were at risk of the Shock Factor.