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Cold Water Impact

Learn what happens to your body in cold water.

RNLI Cold Water Impact activity slides
  • 30 minutes
  • Required: buckets, cold water, paper towels and stop watches
  • Optional: display equipment
  • Stay together
  • Float

A practical experiment designed to measure the body’s responses to cold water immersion. Children learn about the automatic responses that can’t be controlled; the activity reinforces what to do if they find themselves unexpectedly in cold water.

Tell me more

A question and answer session about what happens to different parts of your body in cold water is followed by a chilly experiment using a bowl of ice-cold water.

There’s also a video included to show the effects of cold water shock.

Please ensure any appropriate permission is given and risk assessment complete ahead of undertaking any optional practical activity.

Curriculum links: 

  • England KS2 PSHE Health & Wellbeing
  • Northern Ireland KS1&2, PD&MU, Personal Understanding and Health
  • Republic of Ireland SPHE, Myself
  • Scotland First & Second Level, PSE / HWB
  • Wales Health and well-being, Science and technology
Play this video to help share our key water safety messages and bring the work of the RNLI to life for your young people.

What to do next